It’s essential to flavour your sushi rice, otherwise you’ll end up with – well you’ll end up with a pretty bland batch of rice.
Although the differences may be subtle, the taste does vary from restaurant to restaurant. Here in my hometown, I’ve eaten sushi rice that tasted like my cat’s litter box (no offense to Sunshine), rice that had no flavouring at all (I think the itamae was sick that day and sent in his 12 year old son) and freaking amazing sushi rice!
I don’t know the secret to their sauce, but the folks at my favourite restaurant, Ichibei, keep me coming back! If you plan to visit Ottawa, check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
Folks also ask me, “Can’t I just leave it out?” I suppose you could, but why go to all the effort of making the perfect batch of sushi rice then. I mean, it’s kind of like a toasted bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich without the mayo. Tastes kind of okay, but not really. I know! The BLT was a bad analogy!
The following is an easy sushi vinegar recipe that will get you up and running. Remember not to use too much of this mixture. You don’t want soggy rice!
- 1/4 cup of Japanese rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- You can substitute ordinary table salt for sea salt. I find the latter has more flavour.
- Small whisk
- Small sauce pan
Preparing the vinegar mixture
- Combine the sugar, rice vinegar, and salt in a sauce pan
- Dissolve over medium heat using a small whisk
- Don’t allow the mixture to reach a boil
- Allow the vinegar solution to cool
Be careful when disolving the sugar. Stir constantly. You don’t want it to burn and spoil the flavour.
In Japan the vinegar solution that you mix into your cooked rice is called sushi-zu.
A Word of Warning!
Don’t use ordinary white vinegar in your sushi vinegar recipe. It has a lot of acid and the sharp taste will overpower your rolls. Japanese rice vinegar has a pleasant mellow flavour.
Supermarkets in most major cities now carry this special vinegar, but if you can’t find Japanese rice vinegar where you live you can buy it online. Mitsukan Rice Vinegar is a well-known brand and I use it in all of my sushi recipes.
If you’re too lazy or in a hurry you can buy pre-made seasoning online. But, you should really try to make your own batch from scratch. It’s like anything else, homemade is always much better!