Pearl rice is often used for making sushi, but with the differences in terms, strains, and everything else, it’s only natural that there would be questions as to whether or not it’s actually sushi rice.
Is pearl rice sushi rice? As a matter of fact, it is. Pearl rice is often used as sushi rice due to its glutinous texture and just how sticky the grains can be, thus making them perfect for molding the various sushi shapes. As a matter of fact, this is the kind of rice that many renowned sushi chefs prefer to use, which is one of the reasons why their sushi dishes are often praised.
Understanding the significance of pearl rice in making sushi is a great way for you to make your own dishes at home, but just knowing what it is might not be enough.
Why Pearl Rice is Good for Making Sushi
If we are going to talk about pearl rice being used for making sushi, there are a bunch of reasons why this is the case. We will be going into more detail about this in a bit. For now, let’s take a look at some of the qualities that sushi rice will need to have in order for it to be used for the dish. These include:
· No overpowering taste
· No overpowering smell
· White in color
These are the qualifications that need to be considered when talking about the conditions for being used for making rice. With this being the case, it just means that pearl rice has met those qualifications. The question is how exactly it did so and the answer is through the characteristics of this type of rice as discussed in the table below:
|Glutinous rice with a high starch content||Most varieties of pearl rice have high starch contents, which make them sticky enough for making sushi when molded into shape|
|Perfect in both size and shape||As a short grain type of rice, pearl rice has just the right size and shape for the job of being molded into blocks or sheets that will be rolled|
|Very white rice||The color of most pearl rice strains in the market is often clean, clear white, which is proof of just how starchy these kinds of rice are|
|No issues with either the taste or smell||There are often no issues when it comes to the taste and smell of pearl rice, except for when it is a strain of the more aromatic variety|
Now, it is worth pointing out that not all restaurants use pearl rice for their sushi but a fair amount of them do. More than anything else, pearl rice is basically a classification and one that applies to a fair number of strains.
If it has to be said about the kind of sushi that can be made when using pearl rice, the quality would have to be the compactness. Sushi needs to hold itself together, after all, and this needs to be done in a worthwhile manner. With that being the case, you need rice that won’t take too much work to keep together.
What is Pearl Rice?
If we are going to break down the characteristics of pearl rice from a technical standpoint, it is a variety that is short, is round, is white, and is reasonably sweet in flavor without really being overpowering. It has a decent amount of starch, which makes it stickier than a lot of other variants but it is not so sticky that it will cause trouble when molding.
The best thing about pearl rice for a lot of people is simply that it is very easy to work with. You don’t really need to be a master chef in order to cook it and this applies to more than just sushi. It also pertains to its qualities when making other dishes that make use of rice and as a simple side dish. It basically offers a great compromise for those divided by rice characteristics.
There are those who don’t like using long grain rice since they tend to have less starch than their short grain counterparts, which can make them difficult to enjoy using chopsticks. However, pearl rice is also not so sticky that it becomes a challenge to use it for stir-frying where the rice needs to be tossed around.
At the end of the day, pearl rice provides an excellent middle ground for a lot of folks, which is why it is so popular as a sushi rice option. After all, there are many establishments that also offer rice as a side dish along with sushi.
Is Pearl Rice the Best Sushi Rice?
In the context of pearl rice being suitable for a lot of cooking styles and that it is easy enough to cook, flavor, and then mold, it is the best type of rice to use for sushi for a lot of folks. Would it immediately be the choice that a lot of professional sushi chefs who place a lot of emphasis on authenticity go for? That is not exactly the case.
For restaurants that are located in places where they have access to real Japanese sushi rice, pearl rice is not necessarily their default choice. There are even some chefs who go rogue and make use of long grain rice that have a high level of starch content for one reason or another. It just so happens that pearl rice is a lot more accessible to a lot more people.
For the home chef who only really wants to make sushi without all the fuss, however, pearl rice would definitely be the best choice. They don’t have to be frustrated at what they have to do and they are more likely to get the results that they want.
Is Sticky Rice Bad for You?
Sticky rice generally contains more starch than other types of rice, but they should not pose a higher risk of being unhealthy food items than less sticky variants. If we are going to go into this from a purely scientific standpoint, practically all rice is bad for you if you eat them in huge amounts.
Can I Cook Sticky Rice in a Rice Cooker?
When prepared with the right methods and depending on the sticky rice variant, you certainly can cook them in a rice cooker. Just make sure that you rinse them to remove some of the starch on the grains so that you will be able to cook them with peace of mind.
Pearl Rice Vs. Other Rice
If we are going to compare pearl rice to other types of rice, we are going to be here all day. For those who haven’t really eaten that much rice to know enough about the staple food in many Asian countries, there are a ton of types of rice available in the market. Some are more accessible than others, with the more exotic varieties being found in specialty shops, but they still exist.
Pearl rice is just one of the more common types of rice that you can find in any grocery store, though, it has to be said that it is not the most common. That honor belongs to something like Calrose rice, at least, when it comes to markets like those in the US. In other places, you are more likely to find long-grain rice variants.
On that note, if the subject boils down to making sushi, pearl rice does perform better than most other varieties. We have already discussed what characteristics make it excellent in the earlier sections with regard to that point and those characteristics do not exist in many other types of rice.
Other Uses for Pearl Rice
With rice being one of the most versatile food items in the world, it is only natural that pearl rice can be used for a whole bunch of other dishes other than sushi. In the fried rice domain alone, you can probably come across hundreds of different combinations and that is if you just type in the right query in Google.
It does not stop there, either, since you can also find this type of rice used in many other types of recipes and cuisine. It can be used as a thickener in soups, it can be turned into porridge, it can be used as an extender, or it can be the main attraction in dishes like paella. We haven’t even touched on food items that also make use of other starchy items like wraps and burrito.
Basically, if you can think of a dish that makes use of rice, you can also use pearl rice to make that dish. It really is just a question of how well you can cook since the only limitation is your capabilities and imagination. Considering the starch content of pearl rice, there are also a bunch of other exotic delicacies that you can make with it as the main ingredient.