Which rice is best to use for sushi?

When making sushi, the type of rice you use is just as important as the fish and other ingredients. Sushi rice, also known as sumeshi, is a specific type of short-grain Japanese rice flavored with a vinegar mixture and is the traditional choice for sushi. But because there are so many types of rice available, it can be difficult to know which is best to use for sushi. In this article, I will tell you which rice is the best to use for sushi.

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Hangiri

My first experience with sushi rice

When I first started making sushi, like so many, I simply bought a pack of rice at the supermarket. I planned to make a delicious Nigiri salmon and some maki. But while making my sushi, I quickly found out that making sushi with just a packet of rice absolutely does not work. The rice didn’t stick, it didn’t taste like anything either, and making the sushi just didn’t work. It turned into one big mess. Recognizable for many people making sushi for the first time, right?

Fortunately, I discovered that you have special sushi rice, which you should use. Sushi rice is quite different from regular white rice, Basmati or Thai Pandan or Jasmine rice. Because sushi rice is much stickier than normal white rice, making it ideal for making that delicious sushi.

Sushi rice is unique short-grain rice

Sushi rice is made from short-grain rice, while other white rice varieties are usually medium-grain or long-grain.

This type of short-grain rice is the traditional choice for sushi and is considered the best option by many sushi chefs. Also, as far as I am concerned, the only option. Sushi tastes so much better with real Japanese short-grain rice. This is because it has a sticky texture that holds together well, making it suitable for making sushi.

Rice field Shizuoka, Japan
Rice fields in Shizuoka, Japan

Japanese short-grain rice: the best rice for sushi

You have many different brands of sushi rice. The best sushi rice comes from Japan, especially from the Hiroshima and Niigata regions. These regions have the ideal climate and soil conditions for growing high-quality short-grain Japanese rice, the preferred variety for making sushi rice. The rice from these regions is known for its sticky consistency and sweet taste, making it perfect for making sushi rolls and topping with fish and other ingredients.

Japanese rice can be harder to find in Europe than in other regions such as North America or Asia. This is because Japanese rice is mainly grown and consumed in Japan, and a smaller amount is exported to other countries. In addition, Japanese rice is highly sought after for its quality and taste, which can make it more expensive than other types of rice.

Some specialty food stores or Asian supermarkets in Europe may offer imported Japanese rice, but it is not as readily available as other types of rice. And if it is available then, it is often purchased directly by the better Japanese restaurants. In fact, the chefs at those establishments prefer to use authentic Japanese sushi rice. And I don’t blame them. They value quality highly.

Therefore, for a home cook, it is difficult to find genuine Japanese sushi rice. But fortunately, there are good alternatives.

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Sushi rice from other countries

Look carefully on the packaging to see which country the rice was produced in. Even though the design appears to be completely Japanese, the origin may be another country. Because short-grain rice is not only grown in Japan. You will find on the shelves in European countries mostly sushi rice which comes from Europe, especially from the countries of Italy and Spain.

Sushi rice, of course, is also grown in Asia. Thailand, for example, is a country that also produces sushi rice. Better and better quality sushi rice is coming from this wonderful country. Moreover, Thailand is one of the largest exporters of rice in the world.

China also produces sushi rice and is considered one of the largest producers of rice in the world. Chinese rice is known for its good quality and is often used in all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants.

Vietnam is also a major producer of sushi rice. In recent years, this country has also started exporting high-quality sushi rice to other countries.

But the country known outside Japan for producing high-quality sushi rice is the United States. After all, the state of California has a similar climate and soil to Japan, and some sushi chefs in the US prefer to use California-grown rice to make sushi. Some sushi chefs find that rice grown in California has a similar taste and texture to rice grown in Japan. Moreover, many American sushi chefs prefer to use locally grown ingredients and support their local farmers. That is why they choose California rice over imported rice from Japan.

I myself also choose a brand of rice from California, namely Itamae brand sushi rice. As far as I am concerned, it is hardly inferior to the big Japanese brands. Itamae is very readily available at Asian supermarkets in the Netherlands.

Welke rijst is het beste om voor sushi te gebruiken - Which rice is best to use for sushi?

The best brands of sushi rice from Japan

OK, so the best sushi rice comes from Japan and is a sushi chef’s first choice. But then, what are the best brands from the Land of the Rising Sun?

The best brands of sushi rice from Japan are carefully grown, harvested and processed to ensure the rice has the ideal texture, flavor and aroma. Where care and attention is taken by farmers. Some of the best brands of sushi rice from Japan are Koshihikari, Akitakomachi and Hitomebore.

  • Considered one of the best brands of sushi rice from Japan, Koshihikari is grown in the Niigata region and is known for its stickiness and sweet taste.
  • Akitakomachi is another popular brand of sushi rice from Japan, it is grown in the Akita region and is known for its consistent quality, good taste and fragrant aroma.
  • Hitomebore is a well-known brand of sushi rice from Japan that is grown around Hiroshima. Considered one of the best brands of sushi rice from Japan, it is known for its delicate flavor and stickiness.

By choosing one of these brands of sushi rice from Japan, you can be sure that your sushi will have the perfect texture, flavor and aroma. There is nothing better on the market. 

Welke rijst is het beste om voor sushi te gebruiken - Which rice is best to use for sushi?

The best brands of sushi rice not from Japan

But what if you can’t find these authentic Japanese brands? Then what? My advice then is to find sushi rice which is grown in California, United States. This is still most similar in taste and texture to the rice grown in Japan.

One of the top brands of sushi rice that is not from Japan is Tamaki Gold, grown in California, United States.

  • Tamaki Gold staat bekend om zijn kleverigheid en zoete smaak, bijna gelijk aan de Japanse. There’s a reason for that. In fact, the rice is grown according to traditional Japanese farming methods, making it very similar to Japanese sushi rice.
  • Another popular brand is Kagayaki, also grown in California, United States. Known for its consistent quality, great taste and its stickiness, Kagayaki is a great alternative to Japanese sushi rice.
  • Nishiki is another popular brand of Japanese short-grain rice often used for sushi. This brand is also grown in the United States and is known for its high quality and consistent taste.
  • The last brand I use myself is Itamae, also from California. Perfect sushi rice for the home cook.
Welke rijst is het beste om voor sushi te gebruiken - Which rice is best to use for sushi?

When choosing a brand of sushi rice that is not from Japan, it is important to find rice that has been properly cleaned and neatly polished and has a consistent size and shape. In addition, the rice should have a sweet aroma and a slightly sticky texture, both characteristics of high-quality sushi rice. Try various brands of rice yourself and see which you like best. You will find that there really is a lot of difference between the brands.

In conclusion, the best rice for sushi is short-grain rice from Japan, but there are also several brands of rice from California that are perfect for making delicious sushi. Ultimately, the choice of rice for sushi depends on personal preference, any dietary restrictions and the flavors and textures of the fish you want to use and other ingredients such as cucumber or avocado.

Above all, read the packaging carefully and see where the rice comes from. Then you already have an indication of whether it is good or not.

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