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Why Is Sushi Rice Sticky ? Here’s What’s Happening

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Have you started making sushi at home ? Then you’ve probably run into a few problems when making the rice. To be fair, the rice is possibly the most frustrating and complex part that you ever have to get rice when making sushi.

So what do you do when your sushi ends up too sticky ? After all, sushi rice is meant to be sticky but it’s not supposed to be a single clump. And if your sushi rice is a confusing mess of rice grains that are no longer individual, it’s likely overcooked. Now let’s take a looka t why sushi rice can get sticky, what you can do about it, and a few other sushi FAQ.

sushi rice sticky

Why is sushi rice sticky ?

Sushi rice is sticky due to a higher starch content than needed. The right sushi rice – Japanese rice – has a higher starch content than regular rice, but it’s lower in starch than sweet rice. That being said, if you used regular rice and cooked it for too long, even stirring from time to time, you activated a lot of starch.

Ideally sushi rice is steamed with a 1:1 water to rice ratio, and the rest of the moisture is then drawn from the vinegar seasoning. If your sushi rice was boiled, you may have overcooked the sushi. This means the grains will easily break when you fold in the vinegar solution.

Can you fix sticky rice in sushi ?

If your rice isn’t overly sticky, you can bring a pot of cold water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, turn off the heat, and add in your rice. Gently stir it, aiming to break the clumps formed.

Once all the grains are separated, or at least most of them, strain the rice with a metal strainer. Be sure to strain it very well. This method does two things, First, it separates each and every grain of rice, which is why you need a big pot with lots of water. And second, it rinses a good portion of the extra starch in your rice.

Read also: Can Sushi Be Vegetarian ?

Your rice will be wet, and will need to cool down a little before you add the vinegar. Let it drain completely before you add any other moisture.

Please keep in mind that if your rice was cooked too long and it has lost its round/oval shape and it’s unfurling, there’s no saving it.

Why is my sushi rice is too wet ?

You sushi rice is too wet because you’ve used too much water when steaming it. Steaming is done with a 1:1 rice to water ratio after soaking for an hour, and a perfectly sealed pot. This way no moisture escapes and you can rely on the measurements you’re making.

If the rice is wet after adding the vinegar seasoning, it means you’ve added too much and will now have to wait for the rice to dry out. You can speed this up by moving the rice around while it cools. You risk breaking the grains, but you only have to do it a few times to make sure moist spots are exposed to the air.

Does sushi rice need to be rinsed ?

Yes, sushi rice needs to be rinsed, otherwise it will get too sticky. By rinsed we mean running the rice under cold water until the resulting water is clear and no longer cloudy.

You can do this two ways. First method, you put all the rice in a pot, cover it with water and swish. Drain water, add more, swish again, and drain again until the water is clear. Depending on the rice brand it could be 3 to 5 waters.

Second method, you put all the rice in a wire sieve, and run it under cold water from the tap, moving the rice around the sieve. You need a fairly large sieve. After a couple of minutes it should be cleaned.

The first method is more thorough, but also leaves you with leftover water. The second water completely drains the rice but is a pain to get all the rice out of the sieve.

How do you fix too much vinegar in sushi rice ?

If you’ve added too much vinegar to your sushi rice you can fix it in two ways. First you may add some extra sugar, to balance things out. If this turns into too much flavor in your rice, you can do one more thing.

vinegar and rice

You can make another batch of rice, almost as big as the first one, if you really have that much vinegar. If not, make just half a batch and add a little sugar to complement the vinegar.

Mix the new rice with the seasoned rice. It won’t be a perfect blend, since the seasoned one will already absorb some flavor by the time the second batch is done. But you can mix both evenly and get a somewhat uniform flavor. In truth there is no saving extra vinegar, aside from adding more rice or starting from scratch.

Read Also: Here’s Why Rice Is Grown In Water

What does rice vinegar do in sushi rice ?

You may be wondering just why you have to add that much vinegar to your rice. Well, it’s mostly so the vinegar can turn the rice a little acidic. This means any bacteria the rice may harbor will be deactivated, and you can safely make the rice today and serve it tomorrow.

Originally the rice was fermented, and the vinegar mimics the flavor of said rice. As for the sugar, it’s not a lot of sugar. It’s just enough to take the edge off the vinegar, so you can get some really good sushi without being distracted by a vinegar note.

Wondering if you can skip the rice in sushi ? Well, not really. It won’t taste the same nor will it stick the same. You can try though, since we think that if you really can’t stand vinegar you should just skip it. It won’t be the same as true sushi, but it’s worth a shot.

If the rolls don’t come out right, don’t worry. You can always place the rice into a bowl, add the toppings on top, and maybe add some shredded nori for presentation. This is an incredibly easy sushi style called scattered sushi (chirashizushi or barazushi).

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