Ming Tsai teaches us the master technique of making sushi rice.


  • 8 cups short-grain Japanese sushi rice

  • 2 cups rice wine vinegar

  • 1/2 cup mirin (Japanese sweet sake)

  • 1 cup sugar


  • 1.

    Place the rice in a bowl and add water to cover it generously. Swish the rice in the water in a single direction to rinse off residual starch. Drain the water, refill the bowl, and swish again. Repeat until the water is clear. Do not rub the rice together with your hands because it could break the grains.

  • 2.

    Drain the rice and place in a medium saucepan fitted with a tight lid. Flatten the rice with a palm and without removing your hand, add water until it just touches the middle and highest knuckle of your hand. This is the “Mt. Fuji” method. Cover and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice stand, uncovered, to plump, for 10-15 minutes.

  • 3.

    Meanwhile, in a small nonreactive saucepan, combine the vinegar, mirin and sugar and heat over medium heat until hot, about 5 minutes; do not allow the mixture to boil. Keep hot.

  • 4.

    Invert the rice into a large stainless-steel or wooden bowl. Don’t include any browned rice that may have formed at the bottom of the pan. Using a wooden or rubber spatula, gently fold half of the vinegar mixture into the rice. Use a light, lifting motion to avoid mashing the rice. Taste; the rice should have a pleasingly sweet-acidic edge. If necessary, fold in more of the vinegar mixture.

  • 5.

    Dampen a clean dish towel. With your hands, gently push the rice together to form a loose mound. (Spread out rice would become dry.) Cover with the towel and allow the rice to rest for 20 minutes to develop its flavor. The rice is now ready to use.

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