Making Sushi Rice

The sushi rice is made by mixing freshly cooked rice and sushi rice vinegar. The rice must be hot to absorb the sushi rice vinegar, and the moisture from the rice is supposed  be exchanged with the sushi rice vinegar. In order to do this, an un-lacquered flat surfaced bowl made of wood called a sushi oke (sushi bucket), or hangiri (rice cutter) is used for mixing. A good bowl is made of hinoki (Japanese cedar) for its lasting pleasant scent. It is also used so the moisture of the rice can be absorbed quickly. It is important to “dry” the rice as quickly as possible, so it remains hot and porous, and therefore the sushi rice vinegar can be absorbed.

When the cooked rice is ready, it is immediately transferred to the bowl, and spread out as much as possible. Then the sushi rice vinegar is evenly splashed on top of the rice. After this is done, the rice has to be cooled as soon as possible. With a fan in one hand, and a shamoji (rice paddle) in the other, the rice is “cut” or mixed while cooled. Care is taken not to break individual rice grains. When the rice starts to get cold, then it will have a glossier texture, and becomes sticker. A dampened cloth is put over the bowl to retain moisture.