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June 3, 2007

Nishiki rice (Recipe: sushi rice)

When the temperature soars above 90 degrees, as it did this weekend here in Rhode Island, I don't want to cook, but I still want to eat. Welcome to Vegetable Sushi Week, Day One: the rice.

Nishikirice

My local Asian supermarket is the second-most-dangerous place on Earth.

At the Super 88 Market, whole aisles are devoted to dried noodles, dishes and chopsticks, spicy condiments, fresh greens like choi sum and long beans and chive blossoms, tofu, soy sauce, curry pastes, rice, frozen potstickers -- and cookware.

Danger! Danger!

I cannot resist the piles of woks, spatulas, skimmers and spiders (not the creepy-crawly kind, but the ones you use to remove food from a fryer), spice toasters, clay pots, dumpling rollers, bamboo steamers, cleavers, chopping blocks, sushi mats and ladles. I have had all of these in my pantry at one time or another, along with three -- yes, three -- rice cookers, each slightly different, that begged to come home with me.

And because I love my rice cookers, I always have Nishiki rice on hand to feed them.

Nishiki, a California-grown brand of medium-grain rice (technically, it's a longer-than-average short-grain rice), is processed using a new milling technology called musenmai. The musenmai process blends heated tapioca with the rice kernels; when moisturized, the tapioca and bran stick to each other, rise to the surface, and both are removed, leaving behind a bright, fresh-tasting, cleaned rice which does not need to be rinsed again before cooking. Water-saving rice... what's not to love?

Nishiki rice comes in white or brown varieties; the white rice is available in the Asian foods aisle in my local grocery store, but the brown rice is a bit harder to find. At the Asian grocery, a five-pound bag of white rice costs $4.59.

Compared to long-grain rice, which takes two cups of water for every one cup of rice, Nishiki rice takes two cups of water for 1.5 cups of rice. In a rice cooker or on the stovetop, if left to steam (with the lid on) for 15 minutes after the cooking is complete, the rice becomes slightly sticky, which is ideal for maki, temaki, and inarizushi, but also perfect for serving with stir-fry dishes, because it's easy to pick up with chopsticks.

Oh, you're probably wondering ... what's the most dangerous place on Earth? A bookstore, of course.

Sushi rice

If you don't have a rice cooker (and you should -- you can buy one for under $15, and it will change your life!), prepare rice on the stovetop according to package directions. Makes 6 cups of cooked rice.

Ingredients

3 cups Nishiki or other medium-grain white rice
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar (Marukan brand is widely available)
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt

Directions

Pour rice into a sieve, and rinse under cold tap water, gently swishing the rice around with your fingers until the water is almost clear, 1 minute. (Do not overrinse, as you need to retain some starch in the rice.) To dry, spread the rice up and around the sides of the sieve, exposing as much of it as possible to the air. Let sit for about 30 minutes, until the rice is completely dry.

Place the rice and 4 cups water in a rice cooker, and set to Cook.

While the rice is steaming, make the dressing: In a small saucepan over low heat, stir the vinegar, sugar and salt until the sugar and salt dissolve. (or, you can microwave on High for 60 seconds). Do not let the mixture boil. Set aside to cool. If you’re making this ahead, pour into a screw-top jar and refrigerate.

When the rice is cooked, remove it to a sushi-oke or a large shallow wooden bowl, like a salad bowl, or large glass baking dish. Set the rice cooker insert aside -- you’ll be putting the rice back into it.

Spread out the hot rice with the edge of a paddle, evenly over the bottom of the bowl, in a slashing motion. Holding the paddle perpendicular to the rice, drizzle the dressing over the back of the paddle evenly over the rice surface. With the paddle, slice and fold the dressing through the rice until the grains are coated and glossy.

Place the dressed sushi rice back in the rice cooker and cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel to keep in the moisture. Click the cooker button on Warm. Sushi rice is easier to handle when it’s warm. It doesn’t have to be warm when you serve it, just when you’re forming the rolls.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

Comments

Ohhh, you remind me of the day I made sushis at home:)
Did you make sushis as well Lydia?:)

These markets are dangerous, all right, but the prices are so ridiculously low that you can forgive yourself for buying two of almost anything. BTW, what's the first-most-dangerous place? I may have missed it in a previous post.

I love shushi rice and will often just eat it plain. But, I think making the shushi is a great idea for the heat.

I'm with you on the first most dangerous place...except for me it's Amazon.fr (books in English, free delivery)
I need a rice cooker. If only I could find that wonderful rice. I need to go to a big city and find an Asian market. I need more time.... I want to see the sushi..

I have to say that Amazon is my most dangerous place. It was buy.com last christmas when they had their $20 off $50 promo, I almost bought $300 in cookbooks... Anyhoo I digress. I love asian markets and I can't live without my rice cooker. I don't even know how to cook rice on the stovetop and I eat it everyday. :P

I work in a bookshop, so I know just how dangerous they can be...but those supermarkets, regardless of cuisine, are some of my favourite places to be. The rice sounds rather clever. Will have to keep my eyes open fot it.

Lydia, I can agree more about the danger of book store, gormet shop & farmers' market! I have never heard of Nishiki rice, so this is a great post! Thanks for the info.

Oh, I can't live without a rice cooker either!

over 100 in ri? holycrap!

I am definitely looking forward to sushi week!

Valentina, I love making sushi! The first time seemed so intimidating, but now it's quick and easy, and with the rice cooker, I don't even have to turn on the stove. That's my kind of hot-weather cooking!

Susan, I snuck it in at the very end -- bookstores are the most dangerous. The prices in my Asian grocery are low on everything, including American products like Tabasco (a third less than in the regular supermarket). Lots of rice cookers available online. Even the simplest ones have a "warm" setting, which is great for getting excess moisture out of the rice. For photos of Ninecooks' cooking groups making vegetable sushi, go here:
http://ninecooks.typepad.com/ninecooks/2006/06/index.html

Sher, sometimes I eat the rice plain, or drizzled with some dark soy sauce.

Katie, I'm pretty much a goner at any bookstore or book site like Amazon or Jessica's Biscuit (cookbooks only). Rice cookers are amazing-- I was never a good rice maker before I bought one.

Amy, check out http://www.ecookbooks.com -- the online site of Jessica's Biscuit. Very "scary" (i.e., wonderful) indeed!

Lucy, they say that if you work in a bakery, you lose the urge to eat pastries all the time. I can't imagine ever losing my urge to buy books!

Anh, gourmet shops are pretty dangerous, too -- but they're usually expensive, and that makes it easy to stick to a budget. At the Asian grocery, where everything is so inexpensive and fresh, it's almost impossible not to buy more than I'd planned!

Aria, global warming has definitely made it to Rhode Island. Tomorrow the forecast is for 80 degrees -- and hail. Go figure.

Freya, stay tuned! More to come.

Speaking of bookstores and sushi -- Trevor Corson ("The Secret Life of Lobsters") just came out with a book about sushi last week called "The Zen of Fish." I've ordered it from the library and will give you a full book report soon Lydia. We'll see if it is half as much fun as reading the Perfect Pantry.

Jessica, I'll look forward to hearing about this book! And I'm so glad you have fun in The Perfect Pantry.

About the rice cookers, are you stuck with a set amount of rice each time, or can you vary it?

Neil, you can make any amount of rice up to the maximum the cooker can hold. So whether you're cooking for two or for twelve (if you get a larger size cooker), you can choose just the amount you need. They are marvelous things, and you don't need a fancy fuzzy logic model; even the simplest cooker is better than stovetop.

I'm with you on bookstores! What does the rice cooker do that makes it superior to stovetop?

Having grown-up children who love (some of) the same things...means ethnic market tours of Hartford CT and Chicago, wonderful restaurants in Providence RI. Hartford's Asian store even has restaurant size woks, big enough for a bathtub! The small town in NH where I live is short on food magic.

Lisa, the rice cooker provides even heat and, most important, when the rice is cooked it shifts to a "keep warm" setting that allows the excess moisture to evaporate slowly. It really makes wonderful rice -- and it's sooooo easy.

Susan, you're lucky to get to the Asian market in Hartford. It is legendary! But there are also a few good markets in Lowell, which is closer to NH. Have you tried them?

oh, you give me ideas. I does not recall when was the last time i cooked sushi! And I love this rice, use the same one.

Bea, sushi is one of my favorite hot-weather dishes. I love that I can find this rice in the regular grocery stores around Boston and Providence, too.

Can you use the Brown Nishiki Rice for sushi as well? my book doesnt specifically say Sushi rice..but it is Nishiki Brown rice.

Jan, you can use brown or white nishiki rice for sushi.

Thanks for the instructions - I had Nishiki rice at home and was looking for some help on how to cook it properly - your method worked well, although we cooked it very carefully on a stove-top with 3 cups rice to 4 cups water - have to say that our sushi rice came out better than usual, so all credit to your tips. I am going to look for a rice cooker though to make it even more perfect. Make Nori and Maki Rolls with some sashimi grade Tuna, and some great avocado rolls.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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