It was International Sushi Day this week, so we caught up with Sara of Shiso Delicious to learn how to build the perfect sushi bento box and find out what ‘sushi’ actually means. 

And now we’re back, this time with a delicious sushi rice recipe, complete with fanning!

Chirashi Sushi – Sushi Bowl

As a Stockholm student, I waitressed in a small sushi restaurant run by a bunch of friendly oji-san, ‘uncles’, who were very happy to explain how they made their rice. Every day they’d prepare big pots of sushi seasoning, based on rice vinegar and kombu seaweed (which gives a specific umami taste). They’d fold this seasoning through freshly cooked rice, while fanning it like crazy with a small handheld paper fan. Fanning makes the liquid evaporate quickly, causing the flavours to get pushed into the grains.

Here’s my simplified version of making sushi vinegared rice.

I cook my rice with the kombu rather than adding it to the seasoning liquid (to save time), and I use coconut palm sugar instead of white. Coconut palm sugar is a whole sugar, with nothing taken out, and one of the most sustainably produced sugars. It’s my favourite to use for cooking. It tints the rice slightly though, so if you want brilliant white rice, use light agave syrup instead.

As sushi rice is vinegared, it’s more resistant to spoiling so you can leave it out, or in a slightly cool place for up to 24 hours. It should not be refrigerated though, as that makes it hard, so eat your sushi rice within this time.

2-3 portions

Eat within 24 hours

For the rice

  • 220g white japanese rice
  • 10 cm kombu seaweed, optional
  • 350m water to cook

For the rice seasoning liquid

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut palm sugar (or 1 tsp agave syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea or rock salt

Optional toppings (all cut neatly)

  • Avocado
  • Finely sliced cucumber
  • Cherry tomato
  • Wasabi paste
  • Nori (cut in very fine strips, confetti style)
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Smoked tofu

Wash your rice with cold water, directly in the pot you will cook it in, trying to rub off as much of its cloudy starch as possible with your fingers. Discard the water and repeat twice.

Drain the rice completely then add the the kombu and the measured water for cooking. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer on lowest heat possible for 15 minutes. Without removing the lid, leave the rice to rest for 5 minutes before using.

Remove the kombu, and slice it as thin as possible with a sharp knife, then make it into a topping for your bowl by tossing it in 1⁄2 teaspoon tamari and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.

Whisk the seasonings together. You are now going to fold the seasoning into the rice, while fanning it. To do this, you need a very big mixing bowl, a giant casserole dish, or a thoroughly cleaned oven tray, with a damp cloth underneath to stop it from moving. Dump the rice into your receptacle and, using a rice paddle or clean spatula (anything flat and wide-ish) start cutting through the rice, as if it is sea water you are cutting through with your bare hands. This way you won’t crush the grains too much.

Drizzle on the seasoning and either get your friend to fan the rice, or cut though the rice with one hand, and fan with the other. To fan, use a big plastic lid, a piece of clean cardboard, or a Japanese fan like my Japanese oji-san friends. After a few minutes your rice should be glossy, slightly warm but not hot and ready to be covered with a damp teatowel until ready to use!

To assemble, fill a small, pretty bowl to 2/3 with sushi rice, gently even it out and arrange your toppings neatly on top. Can be prepared 1-2 hours ahead of serving.


Sara’s first cookbook, Bento Power, Brilliantly Balanced Lunchbox Recipes, will be published September 2018 by Kyle Books (Hachette).