Can you make sushi rice ahead of time

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This Sushi Rice Recipe is really sticky and slightly sweet, which makes it perfect for making your own sushi rolls or sashimi at home. This perfectly sticky rice is easy to make and lasts for days in the refrigerator. Instant Pot instructions included! I will teach you how to make sticky rice for sushi, along with all the tips and tricks. Don’t even think about skipping tip #3, even though I know you will try…..

Why I Love This Recipe

Sushi is one of my all-time favorite foods. That statement is newer for me because I never thought I was a sushi type of gal, but I am completely obsessed with it. Now, the price of a quality, handmade sushi roll is what keeps me from eating it as often as I would like, but I’ve spent some serious time learning how to make my own at home. Now I make it all the time!

This recipe is the only one I use because the seasoning is spot on and the end result is super sticky, which is a must to make the perfect sushi or sashimi roll at home.

There are a couple of key points for making a killer sushi rice and this one hits them all. Don’t be afraid of trying to make your own sushi or sashimi because you will be amazed at how easy it is. Plus, if you get a bit too intimidated by rolling sushi, you can always opt for an equally delicious sushi bowl instead.

What is Sushi Rice?

Despite being able to find bags labeled “sushi rice” at the store, sushi rice isn’t a specific variety of rice grown by farmers. The title “sushi rice” doesn’t refer directly to the grain itself but only to how the rice is prepared: by steaming until the grain is fully cooked, then adding rice vinegar, sugar, and salt as the seasoning.

Just because there isn’t officially a “sushi rice” grain doesn’t mean any type of rice works in a sushi rice recipe. Traditionally, sushi rice uses a short grain Japanese white rice called uruchimai. There are a couple of other types of Japanese rice but uruchimai is specifically for sushi rice.

How to Make Sushi Rice

Honestly, learning how to cook sushi rice is only one extra step more compared to making any other type of white rice so don’t be intimidated! Just follow each of these easy steps for the best sushi rice every time:

  1. Rinse the rice well. If you are in the states, this might be an odd practice. But rinsing is an imperative step to make rice for sushi. Either rinse the uncooked grain in a bowl of cool water, or in a mesh colander, until the water runs clear. Be sure to drain off any excess water before cooking.
  2. Cook the rice. You can make it on the stove, in a rice cooker, or in an Instant Pot. The cooking tool is completely a personal choice. One is not better than another. Use the kitchen tool already on hand and you’re familiar using when cooking rice. Again, this is very simple so no need to complicate it with new equipment.
  3. Season the cooked rice. The seasoning for sushi rice is what truly sets it apart as unique. Transfer the cooked rice into a large mixing bowl to begin cooling, then heat rice vinegar, sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves. Pour the seasoning mixture over the rice. Gently fold the sushi vinegar mixture into the rice evenly using a large rubber spatula.
  4. Cool the rice. Here’s the hardest step of it all…waiting until the seasoned sushi rice comes to room temperature. The cooling process is where the stickiness develops so do not try skipping this step. To speed up the cooling process, spread the finished rice onto a half-sheet pan and cover it with a damp towel so it doesn’t dry out.

Full instructions and measurements are in the recipe card below. I hope this quick rundown helps remove those first feelings of intimidation about making sushi at home.

Tips to Make a Sticky Sushi Rice Recipe

If the finished sushi rice isn’t a sticky sushi rice, it will be useless when trying to make sushi rolls. It will still taste delicious but you’ll have to settle for a sushi bowl instead.

  1. Only use Japanese sushi rice. Sushi rice is a form of short grain rice and its starch is what makes it so sticky once it cools. (This brand is my personal favorite). Don’t try to use the standard long grain rice you already have in your cupboard or your roll will not work. At all. Not to mention the texture will be much too mushy.
  2. Rinse your uncooked sushi rice well. It may seem odd or an unnecessary step, but be sure you rinse your rice until the water runs clear. You’ll consider skipping this step if you are in a rush. But if you do, you will end up with more of a rice paste than anything. Nasty!
  3. Sticky sushi rice becomes sticky as it cools. Allow the finished rice to come to room temperature before using it. As the finished rice cools, it becomes even stickier so don’t rush this process. If you are in a rush, you can always transfer your cooked sushi rice into a shallow pan and allow it to cool faster.

Recipe FAQs

How to make Instant Pot sushi rice

The only difference in making sushi rice in an Instant Pot is simply the cooking vessel. All the measurements in the recipe are exactly the same. Cook the rinsed rice and water on low pressure for 12 minutes, then release the pressure naturally. You will then follow the seasoning and cooling steps as shown in the recipe below.

Can sushi rice be made with regular rice?

Just because technically you can do something doesn’t mean you should 🙂 If you prepare this recipe with standard long grain rice, the results will be very different in both taste and texture. It will turn out quite mushy and without much texture distinction between each grain of rice. So please, use Japanese sushi rice. The short grain size enhances the stickiness of the finished rice without losing its texture as a regular long grain rice would.

Why does sushi rice need rice vinegar?

If sushi rice isn’t seasoned with rice vinegar, along with the sugar and kosher salt, once it is finished cooking, the end result would be an extremely bland piece of sushi. The subtle tang from the rice vinegar, along with the hint of sweetness and salt make for a perfect bite of sushi. In fact, the Japanese name for sushi rice translates to “vinegar rice.” It doesn’t require a lot of vinegar but if you want the best-tasting sushi roll, don’t skip out on it!

Why is sushi rice sticky?

This short-grain rice has a ton of starch in it, which is why you have to rinse it well before cooking or you end up with rice paste. Even after you rinse the starch off the uncooked sushi rice grain, more starch releases while it cooks. Then, as it cools, those starches act like the perfect glue to hold the rice together. Without the rinsing step that comes first, you would end up with too much “glue” in the sushi rice.

Is sushi rice the same as sticky rice?

Sushi rice and sticky rice are made from two completely different types of grains and have different textures and flavors. A sushi rice recipe uses a type of short-grain rice from Japan that becomes sticky when prepared properly. It is used for sushi and sashimi rolls. Sticky rice is from Thailand and is a round grain that becomes extremely sticky when cooked and is often used in desserts when it is sweetened with coconut milk, sugar, or condensed milk.

What to Serve with Sushi Rice

Now that you have your perfect sticky rice for sushi, how are you going to serve it? Obviously, rice is not usually the main star of a meal but a side dish. I’ve included suggestions on how to use this amazing sushi rice recipe so it truly shines.

  • Make sushi rolls or sashimi. Don’t make this too complicated and try to go crazy, especially if you are new to making sushi at home. Pick one protein along with one or two vegetables/fruits from the list below to put inside the rolls.
    • Raw proteins: tuna, salmon, yellowtail, or halibut
    • Cooked proteins: shrimp, crab, smoked salmon
    • Vegetables: cucumber, pepper, mushroom, carrot
    • Fruits: avocado, mango
  • Make sushi bowls. If the thought of rolling sushi at home is going a step too far, opt for the sushi bowl instead. This take on a sushi roll is especially useful when serving more than just a few people. A sushi bowl allows everyone to create their own customized bowl with the all toppings they love.
  • Make poke. Bring this whole sticky rice recipe to Hawaii instead of Japan and go for the poke bowl. Similar to a sushi bowl, a poke bowl differs by the large number and variety of ingredients added on top of the sticky rice and protein. And the finishing touch is 3-4 different sauces.

If you are new to making sushi, you will need a Basic Sushi Making Kit and I love this one because it is only a few bucks and has everything you need. There are more expensive or fancier ones out there, but unless you are planning to become a sushi master, this is perfect for the home cook like you! Just click on the picture to grab your own!

Looking for More Asian Flavors?

Don’t miss out on these other great recipes that provide all those regional flavors you love in sushi.

Instant Pot Chicken Lo Mein
Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Thai Chicken Salad
Instant Pot Chicken Lo Mein
Can you make sushi rice ahead of time
Thai Chicken Salad

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