The Differences Between Sushi Rice and Regular Rice

If you’re new to eating sushi, you’ve probably noticed that the rice seems a bit different than regular rice, even if it looks and tastes practically the same. If you’re wondering if there is any difference between the two, you’re not alone. While they’re very similar, there are some differences.

Sushi rice is sticky short-grain white rice typically cooked with a mixture of vinegar and sugar, creating an even stickier texture. The main difference between sushi rice and regular rice is the size of the grain and the way that the rice is cooked and prepared.

This article will discuss what kind of rice sushi rice is and the main differences between sushi rice and regular rice. Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following about sushi rice:

  • What causes the different textures between sushi rice and regular rice
  • If sushi rice is healthier than regular rice
  • The different ways to prepare sushi rice and regular rice
  • If you can use other rice as sushi rice

How Is Sushi Rice Different From Regular Rice?

Sushi rice is different from regular rice because it is a short-grain variant, while regular rice is typically medium or long-grain. Short grain rice, like sushi rice, contains more amylopectin starch molecules responsible for making rice sticky after cooking.

While many people may think sushi rice and regular rice are similar or even the same, they have many differences besides the texture and grain size. 

Sushi rice typically has a sweeter taste than other rice, which is why it’s used in many dessert dishes across Asia.

What Kind of Rice Is Sushi Rice?

Sushi rice is a glutinous rice, also known as Sticky Rice. This rice is a short-grain white rice that is mainly grown in Southeast and East Asia. While this rice is primarily used for sushi, it’s also popular in many other dishes across Asia.

Most of the time, Sushi rice is referred to as Sticky Rice, as in many places in East Asia, it’s used in dishes besides sushi.

Is Sushi Rice Healthier Than Regular Rice?

Sushi rice is not healthier than many other types of rice because it has a high sugar and starch content. Additionally, sushi rice is typically compacted into smaller-looking portions. Therefore, it’s easier to eat a larger amount than you usually would.

If you’re trying to decide which rice to use for your dishes, the health aspects are an essential aspect to consider. While some people may think that short-grain rice will be healthier than long-grain rice, that’s not always the case.

The rice in sushi is typically the least healthy aspect of sushi because the rice is high in carbohydrates due to the level of amylopectin and has little to no extra nutritional value. As amylopectin starch components have a high glycemic index (GI), eating too much sushi rice could cause a spike in your blood sugar.

Which Rice Is the Healthiest?

Brown rice is considered one of the healthier options when it comes to rice. While it’s still one of the foods that can have a high GI, brown rice is higher in protein and other vitamins and minerals than different types of rice.

Therefore, it’s a popular choice for people who try to eat healthily and have specific dietary restrictions.

What Causes the Different Textures of Sushi Rice and Regular Rice?

Rice has two main starch components: Amylose and Amylopectin. Rice with more amylopectin, like sushi rice, is more sticky or glutinous than rice with high amylose.  Because sushi rice contains more amylopectin, the water thickens as it cooks, causing a sticky texture.

With short-grain rice like sushi rice, scratch granules will pop around 160-170°F (71-76°C). Whereas regular rice, or medium or long-grain rice, doesn’t pop until around 200°F (93°C). Regular rice contains more amylose. Therefore, it gives off less starch, which results in rice that is separated instead of glutinous.

What’s the Difference Between How Sushi Rice and Regular Rice Is Prepared?

While most people choose to either steam or boil rice, steaming is usually the best option when it comes to sushi rice. Sticky sushi rice can quickly turn into an inedible clump if you use too much water, and a steamer will provide more consistent results.

Many people will make short-grain rice and drizzle it Rice Vinegar, such as the Marukan Genuine Brewed Rice Vinegar from Amazon.com, before folding the rice to mix it all together.  

Do You Need To Use Rice Vinegar?

With sushi rice or other short-grain rice, using rice vinegar isn’t necessary unless you want the texture more sticky. Sushi rice and short-grain rice will already be sticky.  However, if you make medium-grain rice and want a sticky texture, using rice vinegar on the rice will make it sticky.

Can I Use Regular Rice As Sushi Rice?

Sushi rice is used for sushi because of its sticky texture, and regular rice won’t work as well or stay stuck together as sushi should.  The stickiness of the rice helps keep sushi rolls together.  While you can use any short-grain rice, rice grown for sushi will ensure the best results.

While there are excellent sushi rice products specifically labeled sushi rice, such as this 4Sisters Japonica Sushi Rice from Amazon.com, you can make your own sushi rice with any short-grain rice. Buying a sushi rice-specific product like this one, however, will guarantee a great, sticky texture that’s perfect for sushi rolls.

Final Thoughts

While sushi rice and regular rice have many similarities, they are also very different. Sushi rice, or short-grain rice, has a sticky texture due to the tiny granules. When cooked, this rice emits starch into the water, making a sticky texture.

On the other hand, regular rice has medium to long grains, so the cooked rice is separated. Therefore, it doesn’t have the same sticky texture. Since you can make sushi rice from any form of short-grain rice, you can easily prepare it, especially if you add rice vinegar to give the rice some extra stickiness.

Here are some of my favorite sushi making tools

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you find it useful as you make sushi at home. Here are some tools I’ve used that I hope you’ll find helpful, too. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to use any of them, I will earn a commission. But honestly, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my family.

Rice cooker: For getting started, I really like Zojirushi Rice Cooker. The Zojirushi Rice cooker does not only make rice-cooking dirt simple, but it is a quality gadget that cooks better than most chefs can. Unlike most kitchen gadgets, it does not sacrifice quality for convenience.

Knife:The Kai Knife is one of the best sushi knives in the market. Made in Japan’s famous knife-making capital, Seki city.

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