Sushi rice in a wooden hangiri (a large, flat, round container)

Sumeshi, also known as sushi-meshi, is the Japanese term for the sushi rice. Sumeshi is used in sushi, giving it a light but distinct flavor.

Makes 3 cups of sumeshi.

  • 1.5 cups uncooked short grain rice
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 6 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 5 tbsp sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Cook the rice, using equal parts rice and water. I use a rice cooker, but you can also cook it on the stove if you don’t have a rice cooker.
  2. Put the rice vinegar and sugar in a small pot over medium heat.
  3. Stir until the sugar has melted into the rice vinegar.
  4. Once the rice is finished cooking, take the rice out of the pot and put it in the hangiri, or a large bowl if you don’t have a hangiri.
  5. Cool the rice and rice vinegar mix, then slowly pour the rice vinegar mix over the rice, using a cutting motion to mix it into the rice with the rice paddle (Thanks to Will and Jim for their tips!).
  6. Make sushi!

99 thoughts on “Sumeshi”

  1. WillTheComputerGuy -

    One more thing you need to do is let the rice cool a bit before adding the sushi vinegar. I believe this can be done with the same cutting motion as when blending the sushi vinegar with the rice.

    I found when I tried to cut the vinegar into the rice that the hot rice didn’t take the vinegar as well. I don’t know if I’m right, but that’s what worked for me when I tried this a long time ago.

  2. Jim -

    I have heard pour hot vinegar on hot rice OR if you let the rice cool, use cooler vineger. In other words, the two should be near the same temp.

  3. lordaDam -

    Actually you do want to add the vinegar to hot rice. While you are stirring the rice, you want to fan it (I use large, flat a pot lid). Each grain of rice should be coated with the rice vinegar mixture and should be glossy. There should be no excess moisture.

    Hope this helps!

  4. lordaDam -

    I don’t think it matters as long has you make sure the excess moisture evaporates. The hot vinegar will evaporate quicker so I image hot is better, although I’ve been lazy lately and have been using seasoned rice vinegar straight out of the bottle.

    I also like to start rolling while the rice is still a little warm because it is more pliable and spreads out easier. By the time you add the filling the rice is cool enough to not affect the quality of the fish.

  5. Marky Maki -

    I skip the sugar and add a packet (or 2) of Nutrasweet or Spenda (experiment until you find the right taste). You’ll save on the calories.

    Be sure to add the sugar/sweetner when the rice is hot with a little vinegar so it will dissolve easier. I found adding vinegar when the rice is hot or cool doesn’t matter- it still tastes the same.

    And i definitely skip the salt altogether- the soy sauce and nori seaweed provides more than enough salt to flavor everything. Experiment to see what you like better.

  6. Allison -

    hien – That sounds interesting, I’ll have to try that!
    Marky Maki – Very interesting. I’m sure my readers who want to cut out calories or salt will appreciate that.

  7. tim -

    So, we’re talking about 3 1/2 cups of already-cooked rice, combined with these other ingredients?

    I assume so, but I’m confused, because most of your recipes call for 6 cups of sumeshi.

    In that case, I’m “not quite doubling” this sumeshi recipe — correct?

    Could you perhaps consider posting a recipe that includes “uncooked” rice measurements, along with updated measurements for sugar, etc., that equal your six cups? That’d be awesome.

    I could do the math and figure it all out, I suppose, but I’m just asking. Seems like it would be a handy thing for your readers, seeing as 6 cups of sumeshi is called for so many times.

  8. Allison -

    Tim – Good point… I’ll change that as soon as I can. I just reread what I wrote, and realized that it is rather confusing! That should be changed by the end of this weekend… so sorry for the confusion!!!!

  9. tim -

    No worries — perhaps I was the only one confused! πŸ™‚ But thank you for clarifying. I LOVE your site, and my mouth waters everytime I’m here. And now I’m all set to take the plunge, thanks to you. (I tried making sushi like, um, 15 years ago, and all I remember was cooked rice scattered all over counter, squishing out of one end, nori tearing — it wasn’t pretty. Let’s hope I’m less of a clod now.)

  10. Allison -

    πŸ™‚ No problem. I’m glad you like the site, and it’s really good to know I’m successful at making people want to eat and make sushi! Hope your sushi making works better this time!

  11. Ralph Whitbeck -

    I was just reading through this again now that I’ve made my rice for the first few time in between the holidays…and I don’t see anyone mention that you need to wash the rice before cooking.

    In all the manuals and videos I watch they say that this is the most important step is to wash the rice.

    The way I found to do it is to put your rice in a bowl and pour in some water. Massage the rice with your hand and fingers trying to get off as much of the starch as possible you’ll see the water will turn milky white. Drain teh majority of the water out leaving about 1 cup and massage again…with less water the rice can rub more getting more starch off. drain the rest of the rice and repeat until the water is almost clear.

  12. Allison -

    Oops! I guess I assumed people knew that! My mistake! I usually put the rice in the pot and put water in it, then let it soak for a bit. Then I massage it with my hands and pour out the water. I put more water in and massage it a few times, until the water runs clear. Hope that helped!

  13. Christine -

    I’m not sure if the amount of vinagar is correct. It’s a bit more than 1/3 of a cup! I’ve tried four different recipes for sumeshi so far (including this one) and the other three call for less than half the vinagar used here. When attempting this recipe, adding the full amount of vinagar made the rice almost watery, and the rice was so sour it was a little bit painful to eat. Is there a typo in the recipe?

  14. Allison -

    This recipe turned out fine for me, are you sure you used the correct amounts? The rice will be wet at first, but after a little mixing it will dry out a little so it isn’t so wet in your sushi. The rice has never seemed sour to me when I made it… plus I have seen some recipes that use even more rice vinegar than I used! But of course you can use less rice vinegar when you make it! πŸ˜€

  15. Ann -

    You said that you use a rice cooker. Do you recommend any specific brand? There are so many on the market and i really don’t know which is the best to purchase for home use.

  16. pdice -

    Are those japanese cups or standard english cups. I got a panasonic rice cooker and the cup sizes don’t match up to what I normally use.

  17. Allison -

    Ann – Sorry it took me so long to reply! We use the Aroma rice cooker, which can hold up to 10 cups of rice. It works very well for us, especially because we often make a lot of rice. Hope that helps!

    pdice – Those are standard English cups, as are the measurements for how much rice to use in each roll of sushi. Yeah, I know the different cup sizes can be confusing! It’s like that for us too. πŸ™‚

  18. Pati @-;-- -

    Hi Allison! Today, Valentine’s Day I’m going to try your recipe and make sushi for the first time… I’ll let you know the effect it causes on my hubby πŸ˜‰

    Wish me luck!

    BTW, I looooove your site!!!

  19. Dimora -

    I’ve been using a different ratio of vinegar and sugar that seems to be working well (4 TBS of rice vinegar and 2 TBS of sugar per 4 cups of cooked rice). But I’m still fiddling with it to find the taste that I like! This mix is good for Onigiri but I don’t think it’s doing the job for maki and oshizushi!

    I have a question about storage. Unless I am making Onigiri, I really find that the sumeshi just doesn’t hold up when its been refrigerated. It dries out, gets hard and doesn’t stay together.

    Is it my ratio of sugar and rice vinegar? Do I REALLY need to put that much sugar into the rice? πŸ™‚

  20. Allison -

    Dimora – Putting less sugar in the rice might help, although your rice will taste a little more sour. Unfortunately, I always find that my rice dries out, no matter what!! So if you do find a mixture that works, please let me know! πŸ™‚

    Tim – Thanks! Always glad to be able to help! πŸ™‚

  21. pdice -

    Do you have any suggestions for the brand of rice? I haven’t found a good short grain locally yet.

  22. Allison -

    I usually use Calrose for my sushi rice, although it tends to get a little hard when you refrigerate it (of course, I could jut be putting too little water in it, who knows!) Hope that helps!

  23. Cookie -

    Hi, I was wondering, do you ever use that seaweed, I believe it’s called kombu or something, when cooking sushi rice? I haven’t tried it but if you have, does it make a big difference?

  24. Allison -

    I have heard of using kombu, although I have never used it myself so I don’t know how much of a difference it makes. If I ever do get a chance to use some, I’ll definitely post something about it!

  25. Angi -

    This is GREAT!!! I have been searching for instructions on how to make my favorite kinds of sushi. The tempura shrimp and the Unagi rolls. YUM! I am going to give this a whirl tonight.

    My only question is:
    Do I have to use equal parts rice and water? The only reason I ask is because the rice I have usually takes double the water to actually cook the rice. So, do I need to just cook the rice as the rice instructions say to or do I need to do equal parts water and rice, it will still be uncooked, but somehow the vinegar/sugar mixture will do the rest? That does not sound right…..

    Anyway, thanks so much! I can’t wait to try it out!

  26. Allison -

    The rice I use only needs equal parts of rice and water to cook, which is why the recipe is written like this. If the rice you use needs twice as much water to cook, by all means, do so! I wouldn’t want you eating uncooked rice in your sushi! πŸ˜€

  27. Allison -

    According to, you can use apple cider vinegar (also add a pinch of sugar if you like), or white wine vinegar, or 3 parts white vinegar and 1 part water in place of the rice vinegar. I haven’t tried any of these out, so I don’t know if they will taste good, but if you don’t have rice vinegar they are worth a shot!

  28. lisalisa -

    Allison, thank you so much for all your easy to understand recipies and explanations! You present all your information so well I can’t wait to try them all! One question, though: Have you ever steamed your rice, or is that what your rice cooker does? I don’t have a rice cooker per se but I do have a rice/vegetable steamer, so hopefully that will do the trick.

    Thanks again!

  29. Allison -

    You are so welcome! I would recommend boiling your rice rather than steaming it. You can use the measurements of rice and water that I use in this recipe. Stick it in a large pot, and bring to a boil then let simmer for about 10-12 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it sit undisturbed for 5-20 minutes so it is fluffy.

  30. Raeiven -

    I know everyone thanks you… but I’m really impressed with the quality and thorough descriptions of the recipes and instructions!

    I’ve been meaning to try making my own sushi for a while, and seeing as how I’m pregnant and that’s all I want now… well what better time? lol

    I know. I’m staying away from the fish while pregnant, but I couldn’t manage to roll my california rolls correctly until I found your site. Thank you so much for helping me satisfy my craving!!

    And I’m sure my fiancee agrees I’m much happier when I’m full. >

  31. Allison -

    πŸ™‚ Thanks! I’m glad I could help satisfy your cravings. Hehe we have plenty of non-fish rolls on here, so even if you get tired of California rolls, you can still satisfy sushi cravings! πŸ˜€ Good luck with your pregnancy!

  32. Pat -

    Great site! I made sushi for the first time last night, and with the help of your advice and the valuable contributions of your blog commentators, it turned out far better than I ever would have guessed.

    It’s actually pretty easy to make sushi!

    Thanks for the great resource.

  33. Linda Masiello -

    Hello. I am a neophyte at sushi making, wanting (hoping/daring) to give it a try. I get brown rice maki at my local supermarket and would like to try making that. Have you made brown rice sushi? Also, I am ashamed to admit it, but I didn’t even know that sugar was in the rice! I don’t use white sugar, dare I use my fav lower-glycemic load sugar substitute, agave nectar? blasphemy? oh, well, what have I got to lose to ask?
    thanks so much,

  34. Allison -

    Hi Linda! Welcome! πŸ™‚ I have never made brown rice sushi, but mostly because that’s just not something I typically have in my kitchen, not because I see anything wrong with brown rice sushi. Same sort of thing with agave nectar, I just don’t have any, so I never thought to try sushi with it! I have heard of sushi being made with brown rice, so maybe it would work? For the agave nectar, I would assume that you would use the same conversion amounts that you would usually use to substitute it for sugar? I know someone who can’t eat sugar, but she substituted it with fructose so I don’t know if that is applicable for you. So sorry I couldn’t be of more help! I definitely am considering making sushi with brown rice in the future, so keep an eye out for it! πŸ™‚

  35. Charon Zaev -

    Hi! I’ve been making my sushi with apple vinegar. I didn’t even know that you’re supposed to use rice vinegar!! At the local Japanese market, the owner suggested the apple vinegar (only after suggesting an MSG conconction, which I didn’t want to use). Are these two similar? Is there a big difference between apple vinegar and rice vinegar?

  36. Allison -

    MsPina – Uh… that’s all I have ever used, but apparently you can use apple vinegar too! Hehe see Charon’s comment. πŸ˜›

    Charon – Interesting! I have never heard of anything other than rice vinegar being used… how does it taste, compared to restaurant sushi? I don’t know that I have ever even heard of apple vinegar… but it’s definitely something interesting to try! I’m starting to think I should do a testing post with all sorts of different vinegars, to see what works best!

  37. Carla -

    I looked for sushi rice in the supermarket yesterday, but there was nothing that actually said “sushi rice.” It was something like Takemeshi. Is that the same thing?

  38. Allison -

    You can go here to see a picture and description of the kind of rice I use. It’s not actually called sushi rice, I think it’s called short grain rice. It only becomes sushi rice once you mix it with the sushi vinegar, like in the recipe above. πŸ™‚

  39. Sarah A -

    This seems like fun, but also like a lot of work! I don’t have the exact ingredients but I’m trying to use Jasmine rice. And also apple vinegar. How much do you think I’ll need to make of the rice if I’m making 3 temaki sushi rolls?

  40. Allison -

    It’s not too much work! And definitely worth it. πŸ™‚ I’ve never used Jasmine rice or apple vinegar, let me know how that turns out! Assuming Jasmine rice cooks similar to short-grain rice, you will need about 1/2 cup of rice and 1/2 cup of water, to end up with 1 cup of rice.

  41. Vincent -

    How long can you store just the sumeshi before it hardens/goes bad? I want to try making it, but most of the recipes I’m finding are for enough rice for 8+ rolls, and I’d only need around 4-6.

  42. Albert -

    i would like to ask, must i wash the rice until the water run clear or until fairly clear??? i bought a sushi rice (calrose california){i forgot the brand} it say 1 cup rice and 2 cup water. i tried with 1 cup rice and 1.5 cup water and the rice was very very sticky. is it too much water??

  43. Vincent -

    Albert: Comment #17

    “…The way I found to do it is to put your rice in a bowl and pour in some water. Massage the rice with your hand and fingers trying to get off as much of the starch as possible youÒ€ℒll see the water will turn milky white. Drain teh majority of the water out leaving about 1 cup and massage againÒ€¦with less water the rice can rub more getting more starch off. drain the rest of the rice and repeat until the water is almost clear.”

    Removing the starch probably reduces some of the stickiness, or something like that, and if you used too little water that would give the rice more stickiness as well. (Like if you add less water to mac and cheese or sauce it is thicker/chunkier)

  44. Allison -

    Vincent – You can usually store the sumeshi for a couple of days, or you could just cut down the amount you make. Most recipes (including mine!) are very easy to scale.

    Also, soaking the rice for at least an hour before rinsing it both helps the rice rinse clear quicker, and keeps the rice from drying out if you store it overnight.

  45. Dave -

    I don’t know if anyone does this other than me but I use plastic cling film to shape the rice. It stops me from getting rice stuck to my fingers. If I am making maki I but about half a cup of sumeshi on the nori sheet and lay a piece of cling film on top. Then I spread out the sumeshi using the cling film. I can even use a rolling pin to get it even once I have it spread out enough.

  46. Florence -

    Have you ever thought of combining the heated sugar/vinegar mixture and adding it to the rice’s water before u place it in the rice cooker to have it thoroughly cook altogether? i dont know if its like oil and will stay on top but i think that would be easier xD

  47. Max the Micro Niche Finder -

    Hiya, i have seen your site when searching a few weeks ago and i really love the design! I just bought a new 3 character domain (cost me a packet) for a niche review blog, and i was wondering if your design is a free or paid one? I’m new to WordPress and about to set it up, and i would really like to get something with a similar look to yours. Any ideas where i could download or buy something similar? Thanks for your help! πŸ™‚

  48. Allison -

    Florence – Nope, I’ve never thought of that, but it seems like it would be a good idea. I wonder, though, if the vinegar would be bad for the rice pot?

    Max – We created and coded our design from scratch, so it cannot be downloaded or bought anywhere. Sorry.

  49. Noel -

    Hi there!
    Is it possible to pour the rice vinegar mix with the uncooked rice into the rice cooker, mix them in then, turn it on to cook the sumeshi? I thought this is how it’s done ’til I stumble in to your website. Thanks.

  50. GatorVTX -

    I have put the vinegar in the water and then poured in the dry rice. It seemed to work fine. I’m still working on the amounts and the taste. Just thought I would let you all know.

  51. healthygirl -

    Funnily, i have been travelling in Korea and i learnt how to make Sushi and they don’t use rice vinegar or sugar. They like it plain.
    I’m gonna try this recipe with my newly imported rice cooker !!

  52. Allison -

    Noel – I’ve never tried that, although hypothetically it might work. The one problem I can see with that, though, is that the acid from the rice vinegar might erode the metal of your rice pot, putting undesirable chemicals in your rice and ruining the pot after using it repeatedly.

    chicken – To each his or her own, of course. But perhaps you might try to have a more open mind… after all, there are many different types of sushi, all of which taste different.

    Gator – Good to know! Have you noticed any problems with the vinegar interacting with the metal of your rice pot? I’m not trying to discourage you (I’m no scientist, after all), just curious.

    healthygirl – Yes, Korean sushi (gimbap) doesn’t use seasonings in their rice. I’ve had it as well, and do agree that it’s delicious as well. πŸ™‚

  53. Jill -

    I followed the recipe exactly, cooled the rice about halfway (along with the vinegar mixture) and it came out PERFECT!!!! Now I just need to practice getting my maki to be beautiful! Thank you for a great recipe!