How To Cook Sushi Rice in Your Rice Cooker

Sushi is delicious – and its very healthy which is probably why more and more people are starting to enjoy this amazing dish. And while this dish is hardly known in the United States, it’s been around for thousands of years.

While there are hundreds of different sushi dishes one thing that they nearly all have in common is that they contain rice. So, do you need to buy special rice for Sush and do you need to have a special rice cooker for Sushi?

Well, in this review not only will I be be revealing the best sushi rice cooker (in fact, I’ll cover 3 of the best!) but I will also share with you a few of my secret tips to get the perfect sushi rice. Finally, to round off, I am going to share a couple of my favorite sushi dishes so that you can start enjoying your new rice cooker right away.

Ok, so lets find out how to cook sushi in a rice cooker!

What Is Sushi

There’s no doubt that it’s one of the most famous dishes to come out of Japan and is enjoyed the world over but did you know that its not, as many people think, raw fish!

Sushi was actually born in Asia where many Asian countries enjoy eating a sushi lunch or as a large dinner meal. The word ‘sushi’ translate to “boiled rice,” not raw fish! But over the past two decades, sushi has come to be known as raw fish.

Sushi is made from vinegared rice that’s formed into small balls or rectangles and then combined with a variety of ingredients, such as vegetables, shellfish, egg, and even meat!

The most basic form of sushi has complete rice grains on top of the ingredient. This style is known as nigiri. A piece of raw fish is placed on top of the rice grain and then picked up with fingers or chopsticks and eaten right away.

One can also see a sushi roll, which consists of a sheet of seaweed wrapped around rice, and sometimes a filling such as avocado or cucumber.

Another form of sushi is sashimi, which is raw fish served without any rice.

A typical sushi meal starts with small bowls of ginger to cleanse the palate and settle the stomach. It is also customary to start off with a bowl of hot miso soup.

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After this introduction, fresh seafood or other ingredients are brought out one by one for each individual diner to see and select.

Handsome chef of japanies restaurant showing plate with sushi standing on kitchen

The sushi chef will then prepare the raw fish slices or ingredients at a counter in front of each person. The seafood is sliced thinly, sometimes with a very sharp knife made specifically for this purpose. Each piece is carefully prepared with rice and other ingredients, depending on the type of roll ordered.

After the sushi is presented, the diner will dip his or her chopsticks into a small dish of soy sauce and place pieces in their mouth.

There are some rules for eating sushi that must be followed to ensure good taste and to avoid being rude! In Japan, it is considered proper etiquette to eat fish with the head facing up when picking it up with chopsticks. Also, it is considered rude to beckon a waiter or waitress by clapping your hands, so if you want more sake (sake is the alcohol that’s served with sushi), you should turn your glass over instead!

One must eat everything placed on his or her plate at a sushi dinner; this is something that even children learn in school. It’s a sign of respect and gratitude for the people who prepared your food so well! Any leftovers must also be wrapped up and given to the chef as a token of thanks.

Oddly enough, sharing sushi is considered bad luck because it can make the person you’re dining with sick! And if a piece of sushi falls from your chopsticks, don’t pick it up. Doing so is considered bad luck for the person you’re dining with!

When visiting a restaurant that serves sushi, one should make sure to inspect the chef’s knives before sitting down at the table and also take note of how he or she prepares your sushi once you’ve chosen it.

But the best way to learn about how to eat sushi correctly is by taking a Japanese language class!

You may be surprised to learn that sushi is actually considered to be a rice dish by most Japanese. That’s because, although it may contain raw fish, shrimp, meat or even vegetables, the main part of the dish is actually rice garnished with vinegar.

You see, fermented rice was originally used to help preserve perishable foods such as fish or meat and enabled people to store and enjoy foods for a long time – in the days before refrigerators and freezers were available. In fact, a lot of the time the rice was thrown away and the more expensive ingredients were eaten on their own. Hence the reason why many Westerners believe that sushi is nothing more than raw seafood!

While there are hundreds of different sushi dishes, one thing that they nearly all have in common is that they contain rice. So, do you need to buy special rice for sushi, and do you need to have a special rice cooker for Sushi?

Well, in this review, I’ll not only be revealing the best sushi rice cooker (in fact, I’ll cover 3 of the best!) But I will also share with you a few of my secret tips to get the perfect sushi rice. Finally, to round things off, I am going to share a couple of my favorite sushi dishes so that you can start enjoying your new rice cooker right away.

Ok, so let’s find out how to cook sushi in a rice cooker!

What Kind of Rice Do You Need?

Given that rice is such an important part of any sushi dish, what things do we need to consider when choosing the perfect variety? Well, the first thing to know is that Sushi rice is almost always white rice. I always advise people to try and use long grain Calrose rice if possible but if this variety isn’t available then you can often find rice packaged up as ‘Sushi rice’ in many supermarkets. You could also look for sushi-meshi or shari rice. Personally, I try to avoid long-grain varieties as they tend to hold a little too much water for my taste, but, it’s a personal choice.

However, perhaps more important than the strain of rice is the cooking method. Sushi rice needs to be cooked in a certain way to make it taste authentic so, without further ado let’s take a quick look at how to cook the perfect Sushi rice.

Image credit: Francys & Jessi on Flickr

How to Cook The Perfect Sushi Rice

The first thing to keep in mind when cooking rice for Sushi is consistency. I don’t mean getting it right every time – I mean how thick and firm the rice is. Most chefs I speak to agree that the perfect Sushi rice should not be too soft. If your rice is too soft then it can become mushy when mixed with vinegar so, in my opinion, it’s better to be slightly undercooked rather than mushy.

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Overcooked rice will not mix well with the vinegar and you may find it becoming clumpy and oozing which is not a nice sensation! Slightly undercooking your rice, by comparison, will mean that after it absorbs the vinegar it will fluff up and become soft and squishy (I do love that term!) – or, in other words, just right.

One the best things about using a rice cooker for Sushi rice is that, providing you have the right machine, you can set the required mode and just sit back while the appliance cooks your rice to the perfect consistency. No more having to stir it and hoping that the texture is right!

Most good rice cookers have pre-set modes for cooking Sushi rice and some, like the Zojirushi models, even used something called fuzzy logic. This is a fancy AI term meaning that they can automatically adjust the cooking process depending on the amount of water, heat, and length of cook you require and they really do help you get amazing results every time.

Believe me, some of these cookers may be a bit more expensive but, in my opinion, they are worth every penny.

So, with the right rice cooker, it really is possible to get restaurant-quality Sushi rice every time – and with almost no effort. That leaves you free to plan the perfect combination of ingredients for your meal. So, the only thing you will have to worry about is whether to make Nigiri, which usually features fish on a bed of rice, Maki – which is meat or fish mixed with rice and rolled up in a wrap of seaweed or even Temai which is cone shaped Sushi (tip: this is great for sharing).

However, no matter what kind of Sushi you prepare, I can guarantee that if you opt for one of my top 3 rice cookers for Sushi, as listed below then the results will be spectacular.

A Quick Word About Raw Fish

Before we go any further, let’s talk about a topic that’s all too fishy but super important: the precautions and dangers of raw fish when it comes to making your own sushi.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good piece of raw fish as much as the next sushi enthusiast, but it’s crucial to be aware of a few things before you dive headfirst into the ocean of culinary delights.

Raw fish fillet with spices and tomatoes on a stone board.

First things first, let’s address the elephant in the room: raw fish can be a bit risky if you don’t handle it properly. It’s like a wild sea creature that needs to be tamed before it’s safe to devour. The main concern here is the potential for foodborne illnesses, such as those caused by bacteria or parasites lurking in the raw fish. Nobody wants their sushi adventure to turn into a trip to the hospital, right?

To keep yourself out of trouble, it’s essential to follow some simple yet vital precautions. Rule number one: always, and I mean always, make sure you’re getting your fish from a trustworthy source. You want fresh, high-quality fish that has been handled with care. Trust me, your taste buds and your tummy will thank you for it.

Speaking of freshness, it’s time to put on your detective hat and channel your inner sushi Sherlock Holmes. Look out for signs of freshness in the fish, like clear eyes, shiny skin, and a pleasant sea-like smell. If the fish is looking dull, has sunken eyes, or smells like a low tide on a hot day, abort mission and find another catch.

Now, let’s talk about the dangers of parasites because nobody wants uninvited guests to crash their sushi party. Some fish, like salmon, trout, or mackerel, can harbor parasites like tapeworms or roundworms. But fret not! You can easily minimize the risk by freezing the fish before using it for sushi. The low temperatures will send those pesky parasites packing.

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When it comes to handling raw fish, cleanliness is king. Wash your hands thoroughly, and make sure your utensils and cutting boards are squeaky clean. Cross-contamination is a villain you want to avoid, so keep raw fish away from other ingredients, especially those that won’t be cooked, like veggies or rice.

Lastly, timing is everything. The longer raw fish is left sitting around, the greater the chances of bacteria throwing a party on it. So, be sure to use your freshly prepared raw fish right away and store any leftovers in the fridge promptly.

Remember, my fellow sushi enthusiasts, the world of raw fish is a wonderful one, but it requires a bit of caution. Follow these tips, be mindful of your ingredients, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your homemade sushi rolls without any unwanted surprises. Happy sushi-making, and may the fish be with you!

WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR IN A RICE COOKER

To be honest, there are hundreds of different rice cooker models out there, and choosing one can seem daunting. However, with a little know-how it’s actually not that difficult to select the best model for your needs.

The first thing you need to do is consider how often you will use the machine. If you are a professional chef running an upmarket sushi restaurant then it makes sense to opt for the best model on the market. You may also want to look at getting a model which has pre-set modes.

However, if you are like most home cooks who only occasionally prepare Sushi then the key thing is convenience. You’ll want a machine that can be used without any fuss and I’ve found that this means choosing one of the best rice cooker models with an inbuilt timer. These models do not come cheap but they are well worth the money.

A detachable inner lid is also a very useful feature to have. This allows you to add rice and water without the lid being attached. You only need to attach it once the timer has started cooking which means that you can get on with other things – like preparing your sushi toppings or chopping vegetables for a salad or getting out the wasabi!

I also prefer induction heating where possible because it means you don’t need to use as much electricity when cooking.

The other thing to look out for is the ease of cleaning. To make sure the cooker is as easy to clean as possible you should try and get one with a non stick coating and a stainless steel exterior . Some people also find that a self-cleaning function is useful.

I would also make sure you check out the size of the rice cooker, in particular the capacity it can hold. This may seem like an insignificant detail but if you want to prepare enough Sushi for a party then you need to make sure your cooker has enough room.

Neuro-fuzzy logic is another great feature to consider. If you can afford it then this is a really clever technology that automatically adjusts the amount of water, heat or time depending on how much rice you have placed inside your cooker. This means that even with the same model and settings you will always get consistent results.

The other thing to consider is just how important it is for your rice cooker to come with a timer. This may not matter so much if you are interested in preparing Sushi on an occasional basis but if you plan to use the machine every day then a model that can be pre-programmed will save you time and energy!

So, let’s get to the point – just what are the top 3 rice cookers for Sushi?

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My Top 3 Rice Cookers For Sushi

Although there are, literally, dozens of great rice cookers on the market, they don’t all have features to help you make the perfect Sushi rice. So, I’ve decided to narrow down my recommendations to just 3 so that I can give you suggestions for each budget. That’s why I’ve listed a budget model (around $25), a mid-range model (around $50), and a high-end model (around $150).

Of course, the more money you spend, the more features you get but you may be surprised at just how much you can get for your cash – especially if you check out the prices on Amazon.

I hope you find what you are looking for but if you would like some more suggestions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Best Budget Rice Cooker For Sushi

Aroma Housewares 2-8-Cups (Cooked) Digital Cool-Touch Rice Grain Cooker

My budget recommendation is also one of the biggest-selling rice cookers on the market – and no wonder, because for around $25 (check out the offers though) the Aroma ARC-914SBD lets you cook up to 8 cups in one go. What’s more, it can steam and allow you to cook vegetables, fish, soup, and even cakes. In fact, there’s hardly anything this sturdy little cooker can’t handle – and all for a price that’s a fraction of its competitors. With over 11,000 reviews on Amazon, it’s easy to see that lots of people agree with me when I say that it’s hard to beat this machine for the money.

The controls are easy to operate and are bold, simple, and well laid out. Since most people will be using this for cooking rice (and sushi, of course!) The Arc features 2 simple buttons for cooking both brown and white rice with a single press, as well as a curiously named “flash rice,” which, as you might expect, just cooks at a higher temperature for quicker results. There’s an easy-to-read LED display that shows the cooking time – again, it’s no-frills but works really well.

It also looks the part, although, I have to say I found the stainless steel exterior a pain to keep properly cleaned, especially as I kept getting rice water dribbling over it as the inner pot was being removed. Overall though, it looks nice, is well-built, and is easy to clean.

There aren’t many accessories at this price, but then again, you wouldn’t expect them, but you do get a non-stick inner pot, a rice measuring cup, and a steamer tray, so it comes with everything you need to use it right out of the box.

Is it the best rice cooker on the market? No.

Is it well priced, does it do a good job, and is it simple to use – yes!

So, if you are looking for a simple, no-frills rice cooker that can produce good sushi rice and you have a limited budget then the ARC is the cooker for you.

Best Mid Range Rice Cooker For Sushi

Instant Pot Duo Mini 7-in-1

If you are a beginner or an occasional chef then you probably aren’t worried about picking up a top-of-the-range rice cooker. However, with a range of rice cookers coming in at around the $80-$100 mark, there’s really no need to skimp on quality and features and, as this top-selling mid-price rice cooker shows, you really can get a lot for your money.

First of all, you get a rice – cooker (naturally – its what I use mine for most of the time) but this device will also enable you to act as

  • A pressure cooker
  • Slow cooker
  • Rice cooker
  • Steamer
  • Saute pan
  • Warner
  • Yogurt maker

making it one of the most versatile cookers on the market. The cooking process is made very simple by the inclusion of 14 one-touch programs which means you just literally pop your food into the cooking pot, press a single button and wait until the dish is done. Simple and very effective.

This cooker is one of the simplest I have ever used. As well as the one-touch cook programs, it features a patented EasySeal lid which instantly seals in the pressure and helps to givbe delicious results, especially when it comes to those tricky beef dishes. The display is large, backlit and easy to read and the icons on the front panel are clear and actually make sense – which is not always the case.

One of the best things about this cooker is that the pressurized container enables you to reduce cooking times significantly – in fact I have found that by increasing the pressure, I can often cook meat and rice dishes up to 4 times faster which is great when I am in a rush and have to feed the family. Its also great for making the perfect Sushi rice because you can vary the heat and pressure settings depending on the type of rice and amount of water you are using. It takes a bit of practice, but once you have your settings down then the results are restaurant quality every time.

The keep-warm function is also great as it means I can cook the food in advance and keep it warm for hours.

One of my favorite things about this cooker, though, and something that I haven’t seen on any others is the cool (and free) smartphone app that lets you download hundreds of recipes to get the best out of the Instant Pot Duo

Dollar for dollar this is probably one of the best rice cookers I have ever used. Highly recommended.

Best High-End Rice Cooker For Sushi – The Zojirushi NS-TSC18 Rice Cooker

If your budget will stretch to it then my top-end choice is the amazing  Zojirushi NS-TSC18 Rice Cooker, one of the most advanced rice cookers on the market today. With a sleek design and a very high build quality, this rice cooker also doubles up as a steamer as it comes with a steaming basket and, believe it or not, it can also bake cakes! It’s a truly great all-rounder and a great addition to any kitchen, especially where space is limited and where you don’t have access to a full-sized cooker and oven.

It boasts a wide variety of pre-set cooking functions to help you produce perfect white rice/sushi, brown rice, steamed vegetables, fish, cake and much more. It has a generous 10-cup capacity, and an easy to clean stainless steel inner container.

The heat is supplied by a powerful 820-watt element and the device also supports automatic keep warm, extended keep warm and even a reheating function if you just need to quickly boost yesterday’s leftovers.

Its not the smallest rice cooker on the market at 11-1/8 by 15 by 9-7/8 inches but thats the price you have to pay if you want a larger capacity.

Nice touches include a little melody – which you can customize – that lets you know when the cook is complete and, of course, its main selling point – fuzzy logic. This, basically, involves some artificial intelligence that enables to machine it automatically adjusts the cooking time and conditions based on factors such as the amount of rice/ its consistency and ambient temperature. It’s all very clever stuff but what it means to the average chef is that you can set, forget it and still get perfect results every time. I love it!

Heres a quick demo of this amazing machine in action.

Of course, the best thing about the Zojirushi NS-TSC18 is that it has a special setting just for cooking Susho rice. Its basically a variation on the white rice program but requires a little less water and a slightly shorter cooking time to produce a firmer, less squashy rice that’s perfect for the dish.

So, if you can afford the little bit extra and want the best rice cooker for sushi on the market then you definitely want to consider the Zojirushi NS-TSC18

Bonus: 2 Great Sushi Dishes You can cook at home

No review of the best rice cooker for sushi would be complete without some great ideas to get you started so, I’ve compiled 3 of my favorite recipes that I really enjoy making. Hopefully, they will inspire you to start eating more shushi. Thank you for reading

Spicy Tuna and Beet Rolls

Photo Credit: Stu Spivak Flickr

Ingredients

1 teaspoon white miso paste
1 teaspoon sriracha
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
6 ounces sashimi grade tuna
2 sheets nori
1/2 cup cooked brown sushi rice
1/4 cup cooked bulgur wheat
1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 golden beet, very thinly sliced (preferably on a mandoline)
4 avocado slices
1/2 English cucumber
1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon pickled ginger, for serving

This is a fairly simple sushi dish to prepare but the results are spectacular. It looks great – practice is needed to get the rolls looking perfect, but its always a talking point at my parties so , I think, its well worth the effort.

Just whisk together the miso, sriracha, and sesame oil. Then, cube the tuna and leave it to marinate in the miso mixture – 10 minutes wil usually do. Cut the nori and lay it on a mat for rolling. Pop your rice into the cooker and cook for about 10 minutes and then, when done, mix it with the vinegar and bulgur. Spoon some rice onto the nori and cover it about 3/4 of the way up. Add 2 slices of beet and top the marinated tuna with cucumber and avocado. Then, gently roll the nori into a cone shape and wet the end to secure. Sprinkle and serve with the pickled ginger.

Hawaiian Style Tuna Poke Bowl

Not strictly speaking a Japanese dish but still tasty as hell, Poke is a Hawaiian dish made of fish that is typically marinated in citrus and shallot. It works great with rice and, for a twist, I like to add some fresh cucumber. In my house, its a lunchtime favorite but, really, it works well for any meal.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces of cubed tuna sashimi,
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons shallot
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Ponzu sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup cooked rice
  • Cucumber slices
  • Slices of green onion
  • Sesame seeds

Prep Time 15 mins

Preparation couldn’t be simpler: just get a small bowl, stir the ginger, shallots, sesame oil, and sauces together and marinade the tuna. Tip: pop it in the fridge for 10 minutes to let the flavors soak in. Prepare your sushi rice in the cooker and once done, add some cucumber and the tuna. Pour any marinade you have left over into the dish and garnish with some sesame seeds and…enjoy!

So, there you are. Hopefully, this article will inspire you to try cooking Sushi at home. It’s healthy, tasty and, if you use the right kind of rice cooker for sushi, easy to do.

Enjoy.

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