Making Sushi Rice

So I thought I try to add another skill to my bag of tricks in the kitchen.  I’ve never made sushi before, so I thought I might start on at least trying to make sushi rice (aka shari).  In Nobu: The Cookbook, the recipe size seemed to make an awful lot of sushi rice, more than two people could consume in a (relatively) short period of time.  Fortunately the new Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook makes a more reasonable sized portion (p. 161).  Only problem now, is where to find the Japanese red vinegar (aka ‘akazu’) here in the Boston area.  I did have the choice, however (according to the recipe in Nobu: The Cookbook), to substitute in the classic white rice vinegar.  Indeed, I could’ve gone and bought the commercially prepared seasoned rice vinegar, but then I might not get as close to the flavor profile found at the restaurant.  Interestingly, Morimoto indicates he uses white wine vinegar in his sushi vinegar preparation.

The Nobu preparation of the vinegar assumes you are cooking 2 1/4 cups (480g) of rice.  The vinegar calls for:

1/3 cup (75 ml) (Japanese red) vinegar to be simmered
1/3 cup (75 ml) of (Japanese red) vinegar to be added at the end of the sushi vinegar making process
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon mirin
1 oz (35 g) of sugar
1 2/3 sq in (~2 sq in) of konbu

Measuring out the sugar; the 35g came out to 3 full tablespoons

The sushi vinegar cast of characters. Yes that’s 2/3rds cup of rice vinegar (1/2 of that will be used in the cooking process)

Combine the vinegar to be heated with the salt, mirin and sugar in a pot and use medium heat to dissolve the salt and sugar.

Dissolving the salt and sugar into mirin and 1/3rd cup of rice vinegar

Once that’s done, add the konbu and take it off the heat to cool back to room temperature.  When

Adding the konbu to the seasoning mix…

1/3rd cup of rice vinegar waiting for the seasoning mix with the konbu to cool to room temperature

cooled, add the reserved vinegar and the sushi vinegar is ready to be added to the cooked rice.

The sushi vinegar ready for refridgeration

To combine the rice and the sushi vinegar, dump the rice from its cooking container into a large mixing bowl and then ‘sprinkle’ the sushi vinegar over the rice by pouring it over a rice paddle.  Mix the rice and vinegar quickly while the rice is still hot using horizontal angular slashes to the rice.   A good demonstration of the technique can be seen in a video featuring Iron Chef Morimoto (who, as many remember, used to head Nobu, NY) that can be seen  here –

(Watch how Iron Chef Morimoto distributes and then blends the sushi vinegar into the rice from time indices 5:27-7:02)

So I wanted to make a half order of the seasoned sushi rice, so I measured out 240g of uncooked sushi rice and got it into the rice cooker.  Once it was done, I moved the cooked rice to a large wooden salad bowl that my wife and I received as a wedding present.  Since I was doing a half order, I tried to add 1/3 cup of the sushi vinegar that I made to the rice and tried to combine it much like Iron Chef Morimoto did in the video.

Combining the sushi vinegar with the rice

It’s sounds like (and interesting to note) that Morimoto comments that the amount of sushi vinegar is about 10% of the volume of the cooked rice.  He also seems to suggest that the combined sushi rice and vinegar should sit for about 5 to 10 minutes before use.  The seasoned sushi rice that I made would be used in making a chirashi as part of an anniversary dinner celebrating the engagement of my wife and I.

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