All good sushi starts with the sushi rice. So follow this recipe by sushi expert Reiko Hashimoto for a sweet-sharp vinegar and perfect rice: sticky enough to hold together, but with all the grains still discernible.
Put all the ingredients for sushi vinegar in a saucepan, and gently heat it. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid has turned a little thicker and syrupy.
Tip the rice into a saucepan. Rinse it with cold water, drain, and repeat three times until the water is almost running clear.
Add the water to the pan, and leave the rice to soak for at least 30 minutes, or up to 5 hours.
To cook rice in a rice cooker: Switch it on. When the rice is cooked, the cooker automatically switches to the “keep warm” position. Allow the rice to stand for 15 minutes, and then skip to the next step.
To cook rice in a saucepan: Cover the pan tightly and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, with the lid on for 13-16 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Take the pan off the heat, and allow the rice to stand for 15 minutes. Be careful not to open the lid while cooking the rice, or steam will escape.
Spread the cooked rice in a large, flat-bottomed bowl (it must be wooden), while the rice is still steaming hot. Gradually pour in the sushi vinegar and mix it with a large wooden, flat spatula as if cutting through the lumps of rice, separating the grain at a sharp angle and continually folding it over. You must not stir otherwise the grains will become crushed and lumpy.
Continue folding the rice gently with one hand, constantly fanning with the other hand until the rice reaches room temperature. Fanning is very important as it’s the most efficient way to cook the rice quickly. The rice should be shiny and sticky, but with the grains still separate rather than compacted together. Keep a damp cloth over the rice to stop it from drying out and hardening before use.
* You mustn’t use a stainless steel or ceramic bowl because they keep the heat, and the condensation changes the texture of the rice.
For more information on Reiko Hashimoto’s cooking classes, visit: hashicooking.co.uk.
By Reiko Hashimoto