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sushi rice advice?

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i've taken to eating handrolls at home fairly frequently and had a question about seasoning the rice. my first try at it in years i used a morimoto recipe and instinctively adjusted it because it seemed like it would be too salty. recently i just followed it without thinking and the result has been an unfixable batch of salty liquid.

his recipe is practically a 1 to 1 ratio - sugar : mirin : sushi vinegar : 1/2salt

looking up more recipes i notice quite a bit of salt shows up in them generally. why is this? i found the salt to be so overwhelming that any sweet or sour tones are masked. adding more vinegar didn't even help a bit!

thoughts?

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  1. Do you salt the rice during cooking?

    1. I've always used just a pinch of salt for two cups uncooked rice--mixed with the vinegar and sugar seasoning.

      1. Is the sushi vinegar you are using a commercial product?, if so, I wouldn't think you would add anything to it.

        You reference a morimoto recipe, I wonder if that recipe was for a specific application, vs general sushi su. I have eaten some "specials" where there is a lot of salt seasoning, with a sweet topping.

        Here is a "family recipe", will season 5 cups of cooked rice: 1 cup Heinz White Vinegar (note: I am currently using 4 Monks White Vinegar, costs ~half as Heinz from Costco), 1 cup sugar, 2T Salt. Here is a local church's recipe: 1 Gal Heinz White Vinegar, 10 lb C&H Cane Sugar, 26oz non iodized salt.

        1. no salting of rice during cooking.

          the first time i used the morimoto recipe (which from his cookbook is a general sushi su recipe), i used at most half if not much less salt and it was perfect!

          the sushi vinegar just seems to be a milder vinegar. i can't recall the brand right now.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pinstripeprincess

            By "sushi vinegar" are you referring to rice vinegar? I'm not Japanese but my friends are and their Moms use vinegar made from rice. Commercial rice vinegars used for sushi come pre-seasoned (with salt and sugar) and un-seasoned (this is pure vinegar, with no additives). The rice vinegars they use are milder because they are less acidic (4%).

            I'm told it's better to use the unseasoned vinegar and mirin (as the mirin provides more flavour than the sugar in the seasoned vinegars.)

            The proportions given by the OP looks about right, assuming the vinegar used is unseasoned rice vinegar.

          2. Absolutely nothing wrong with tweaking your recipe to suit your tastes. My grandmother never measured anything, and most of the time my mom didn't, either. Usually, they'd just add a bunch of vinegar, half as much sugar, and about a quarter as much salt, then start tasting and adjusting. My grandfather and dad, respectively, were the final arbiters of when it was 'just right'.

            1. I take the easy way out: I use sushi-ko. It's a powdered vinegar package you mix into just-cooked rice. No measuring of anything is necessary.

              1. No salt during the cooking. Unseasoned vinegar; sometimes I use seasoned and adjust any added seasoning.

                The ratio I use:

                4 cups uncooked rice w/ a big square of kombu and about 4 Tbl sake. Water in the pot with the Mt. Fuji method and what the rice cooker recommends under the pot. I use a rice cooker these days.

                Su:
                9 Tbl vinegar (I use blend of different vinegars.)
                1 Tbl kosher salt.
                3 Tbl sugar
                1 Tbl mirin (The traditional stuff; Mitoku brand)

                Since I discovered this mirin I've been using about 2:2 sugar:mirin.

                Season to taste, keeping in mind that the smell/taste -- except the salt! -- will reduce as the rice cools. I never use all the su but I'd rather have too much than not enough. I save the rest in the refrigerator.

                Experiment and find what works for you!

                8 Replies
                1. re: Richard 16

                  Very nice sounding recipe. I have a few questions please!

                  1. Do you put the konbu and sake in the rice cooker as it cooks (sorry, very basic question)? And what is the Mt. Fuji method?

                  2. The kosher salt: I always thought kosher salt was fairly large coarse grains of salt. Does it dissolve completely? I would be worried about large residual chunks of salt left around, but I assume you are not having this problem.

                  3. To clarify: Instead of 3 Tbl sugar to 1 Tbl mirin, with the Mitoku brand you are using 2 Tbl to 2 Tbl? Did I get that right? But then you adjust based on taste?

                  Thanks for your help. I am struggling to improve my sushi rice, which tends to be too mushy and overly strong. I am intrigued by the kombu/sake addition.

                  1. re: moh

                    1) Yes, the kombu and the sake go in before cooking. Most recipes that use it call for about a 4" (dry) square piece; I like about twice as much -- seaweed apparently has a strong imumae factor.

                    The Mt. Fuji method works no matter what the amount of water/rice. Readers have no doubt seen different recipes using different water/rice ratios -- it's likely that the more you cook the less water you lose. It's how I was taught, and I have seen it since elsewhere. As far as I know the term originated with Ming Tsai, but my training far predated his shows.

                    It's easy -- put the rinsed rice in the cooker or pot, place your hand flat on the rice and add water until it covers your knuckles. New crop rice needs less water. Just experiment! (And it works for pressure cooked brown rice too!)

                    2) SinceI heat the su in order to dissolve all the sugar anyway, the salt dissolves as well. I mentioned that I use kosher because (as I'm sure you know) the larger flakes make it less salty per tsp than table salt -- about half as salty.

                    3) Exactly. Now that I'm only cooking at home I have the luxury of altering the ingredients to fit the fillings toppings I have, but what I posted is what I use if I have a wide variety or if I simply don't want to think too much. ;-) The taste of the Mitoku is just so darn good that I use more of it.

                    1. re: Richard 16

                      Thanks very much! This all makes sense, and I can't wait to try it! I'll have to look for the Mitoku brand....

                      Re: Mt. Fuji method name: so that's what its called... But that is a perfect description. Many thanks again!

                    2. re: moh

                      moh, regarding mushiness, do you fan the very hot rice while sprinkling on the su?

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Yes I do, like crazy. But I think the problem is i am using too much water to cook the rice. I'm going to start scaling back on the water, i had not been adhering to the Mt Fuji method. I also may be over vigorous in my mixing of the su and the rice. Any other tips?

                        1. re: moh

                          Japanese rice does best at 1:1 rice to water. Bring to a boil, simmer for 20 minutes, let sit for 10--all covered. Spread the rice out on baking tray prior to seasoning. Let sit a bit after seasoning and fanning--the su should be absorbed. Wet your hands prior to spreading the rice over the nori.

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            Thanks so much Richard and Sam! I'm sick of soggy yucky sushi rice. But it does go a long way to making me appreciate a good sushi chef! I totally get the long apprenticeship.

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              I'm coming in late I know but the magic is you want to keep the actual "cooking" time (when the water is simmering) to a minimum and let the rice sit away from the flame...that is how to keep good texture. I'm not very fastidious about my rice but I do always make sure to let it sit for a good while. I don't really bother with the fanning or anything else, and always manage to have good texture just because I let it it sit awhile (usually 15 minutes after turning off the heat).