Thursday, January 6, 2022

How to Make the Perfect Sticky Rice and Sushi Rice- Without a Hassle

I love rice. So do my kids. Sushi rice, by far, is the absolute favorite here. Even if not made into sushi rice, sticky rice is something everyone asks for. 

The thing is, sushi rice isn't easy. And while I love rice, the food I pretty much hate most in the world is rice done badly. (Chicken breast done badly and soggy cereal are the only other foods I can think of that I really care so much about how they're prepared and their texture.) I've written before about how to make the perfect sushi rice, but it is a lot of work, taking many steps, and I generally don't have the energy or the time it takes for all those steps. I've also written about how to make cheater sushi rice, which is much easier, but while it's ok for sushi, it isn't that perfect sushi rice that I really want, it's slightly pasty.

I was trying to find the balance between imperfect yet easy cheater sushi rice and complicated daunting perfect sushi rice, and I was told by my friends that I should just use the Asian mother's method of cooking rice- fill a pot with well-washed rice and cover with water so the water level is pinky knuckle height above the rice. I tried multiple times and it never was enough water, tried using a different knuckle, and still never enough. The rice was hard and uncooked once all the water was gone- exactly the type of rice that I detest. Finally, a friend of mine from Japan who lives locally told me that fresh rice from Japan or China still has moisture in it and therefore can be done with that method, but the rice we have in the rest of the world is older and dryer and therefore needs more water, which is why I was failing with that "tried and true" method. I tried using the same method and just using between my first two knuckles in height, and finally it worked. Then I figured out how much water that actually is. For a kilogram of rice (5 cups) I use a full electric kettle of boiling water- my kettle holding 1.7 liters or about 7 1/4 cups boiling water. Perfection each time now.

Then I wanted to have a better ratio of vinegar, sugar, and salt in my recipe to make it into sushi rice, and my friend David gave me his recipe, meant for 3 cups of rice, which I then modified to work with my full kilogram.

And now I have it. Perfect sushi rice. Not complicated. Not a headache. Quick to make, start to finish. And not pasty at all. And the sauce makes it even better.

Since I've figured this out I've been making this at least once a week, and sometimes even 2 kilograms at a time (two different pots) since 1 kilogram runs out too quickly for us. I use it for poke bowls, bibimbap, sushi, and sticky rice bowls (something my friend Phoebe taught is made in her hometown of Guiyang, China). 

Now that I've perfected this, I wanted to share it with you.

How to Make the Perfect Sticky Rice and Sushi Rice- Without a Hassle

Perfect Simple Sticky Rice Recipe 

1 kilogram package or 5 cups calrose or other short grained rice
1.7 liters or a scant 7 1/4 cups boiling water
Salt and oil if not making it into sushi rice

1. Put your rice in a large pot and cover with water. Swish with your hands many times until the water is white and cloudy. Pour off the water from the pot, as much as you can without letting the rice flow out. Repeat this 1 or 2 more times, until the water that runs out is mostly clear.

2. Boil your water in a kettle. (You can also do this on the stovetop, but it will just take longer and it's harder to keep track and make sure that you catch it exactly when it boils.)

3. Add the boiling water to the pot, and if not turning it into sushi rice, add in a splash of oil, if desired, and 1-2 teaspoons salt.

4. Bring the water to a boil- this should only take a couple of minutes, and then cover it and simmer on a very low flame for 20 minutes. 

5. Let cool with the pot covered.

6. Voila, enjoy.

Perfect Sushi Rice Recipe  

1 recipe sticky rice, made with a kilogram/5 cups of short grain rice, as above
1/2 +1/3 cup vinegar- either rice, apple cider, or white
3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon and 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Let your rice cool for at least 20 minutes, ideally more. (This helps the starch solidify a bit.)

2. Bring the rest of the ingredients to a simmer, mixing frequently, making sure the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.

3. Empty your pot of rice out into a large pan or onto a large tray.

4. Drizzle your hot vinegar mixture over the rice, and fold it into the rice with a flat wooden paddle or a silicon spatula, using a side to side motion.

5. Serve hot, or room temperature if using for sushi or poke bowls.


Do you enjoy sushi rice? How do you make yours? Have you been successful in the "Asian mothers' rice method"? Does this look like a method you'd try?


  1. Sushi or short grain rice is our favorite too and we eat it with chopped tomatoes and chopped avocados too.. I make mine in the Instant Pot- but your recipe looks foolproof . thanks

  2. Hi, i was also once on a quest for perfect easy measurements, and used a Foodnetwork Alton Brown recipe that I calculated for a full bag of rice .. and I got almost the exact as yours! What I have written is my recipe book:
    5 cups sushi rice (a full bag, i guess it's a kilo) with 7 1/2 cups water!
    While cooking, i microwave the sauce:
    5 T rice vinegar, 5 T sugar and 2 1/2 tsp salt
    Then pour over the hot rice. I once read a sushi book at Barnes and Nobles that Japanese cooks fan the hot rice to cool it, and to give the rice a gloss. I've tried that too, but now just spread it out to cool faster.

  3. Thank you for figuring this out! A real help for those of us without rice cookers. And I've noticed too that my rice needs more water; now I know why.


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