Why Your Sushi Rice is Mushy and How to Fix It


Sushi is a luxury food item that practically anyone can make with the right ingredients and knowledge, but the results can sometimes include mushy rice.

Why does your sushi rice become mushy and how can you fix it? There are two possibilities with regards to rice having the wrong texture; the wrong amount of water or the cooking itself. If the rice is mushy, this is either because you put too much water in or you cooked it for too long. Fortunately, this can be fixed with a few simple tricks.

On that note, it should have been best to cook the rice properly, to begin with, and you can do this by knowing what to avoid.

How to Fix Mushy Rice

If you are cooking rice and it always turns out mushy, you can do a few troubleshooting tricks to see what the problem actually is. Now, it’s worth pointing out that there can be several factors that go into this particular issue that you are going to want to keep in mind.

To start with, there is the cooking method that you are using. After all, rice can be cooked in a few different ways, namely:

Cooking MethodDescription
Pilaf methodToast the rice in the pot with oil and add stock or water. Cover and leave it alone.
Risotto methodToast the rice in the pot with oil and add stock or water. Once cooked, add flavorings.
Rice cookerAdd rice in an electric cooking pot, add water, and leave to cook.

Which method you use will affect the consistency and texture of your rice, not to mention its flavor and aroma. There are certain advantages and disadvantages to them, as well, which will be discussed in a bit. For now, we can take a look at the following reasons why your rice might turn out mushy through any of them:

·         Too much water




·         Overcooking

·         Too much stirring

Simply put, if your rice gets too mushy, this can mean that you are adding too much water to it. If your particular method involves a recipe where the rice always ends up with the wrong texture, reduce it and see what happens. You can always add a bit more if it ends up chewy, so there’s no need to worry.

Then there’s the matter of overcooking the sushi rice. This can often be an issue with beginners since they often feel nervous about the rice becoming undercooked, so they overcompensate. If the rice ends up being mushy, dial it down and keep trying the grains to see if they are cooked properly.

Finally, there’s the issue of stirring the rice too much. Ideally, you should not touch the rice at all when it still has yet to cook. If you do, the starch will break down and you end up with broken grains. Only when the rice is fully cooked should you do any kind of stirring and only when adding flavors.

You can start by trying any of these fixes to see if the problem can be solved. If it isn’t, it could be a problem with the equipment you are using.




Cooking Rice Properly

Generally speaking, there is a multitude of ways to cook rice. However, since we are talking about sushi rice here, the safest way to do it would be through the use of a rice cooker. It’s great for both beginners and veterans since the results are often always reliable.

When cooking with a rice cooker, or any cooking method, the ratio of the rice should be 1:1.5. This means that if you are cooking one cup of dry rice, you should use one and a half cup of water. This is you playing it safe since different grains from different sources can have different starch levels.

Professionals sushi chefs often get their rice from specific retailers so they can keep producing consistent results. In your case, you don’t need to go that far. Just get any bag of Japanese rice and you will be good to go.




If you want, you can also use the Asian method of basing the water levels through the first line of your fingertips. Just place the tip of your middle finger on the surface of the rice and fill it up with water until it reaches the first line of your digit. You’ll often get perfect rice every time.

Why Texture is Important for Sushi Rice

The texture is incredibly important not only for sushi but for any dish that requires rice. In the case of this particular Japanese specialty, however, it is necessary for structure. Remember that there are many types of sushi. There are those that require you to roll the rice in dried seaweed wraps along with other ingredients and there are those that require you to shape them into a small block.

Either way, mushy rice can impact the quality of the results you get, either through mouthfeel or presentation. One of sushi’s biggest appeals is how they look and if your roll or block look’s too lumpy, it won’t seem appetizing, at all. When you put sushi made of mushy rice in your mouth, it will feel disgusting, as well.

This is why sushi chefs go to great lengths to perfect their cooking methods for their clients. While you are not required to go that far, you would be doing yourself a disservice to not place importance on it, either.

Related Questions

Why is My Rice Clumpy?

Rice grains that stick together and don’t break apart can be the result of mushy rice that dried up. This means that you didn’t check the texture of your rice when the rice cooker indicated that it was cooked. Then you just left it to keep warm, thus drying it up.

Can You Salvage Mushy Rice?

Generally speaking, mushy rice is best thrown away or used for something else. However, if you caught it in time and it’s just about to get mushy, you can place a slice of loaf bread on top and cover the pot. This will absorb the extra moisture, thus potentially saving the rice.




What to Do with Mushy Rice

If you do end up with mushy rice and don’t want to throw it away, you can actually still use it for other dishes. Just to start you off, there are a variety of different porridge recipes that you can use for such cases. The following are just a few of them:

·         Milk porridge

·         Chocolate porridge

·         Chicken and rice porridge

With the first item, you basically just add milk or cream to the rice and stir until you achieve the right texture. In this particular dish, there are no hard and fast rules, so feel free to experiment. Just don’t burn it and you are sure to end up with a delicious porridge.




The same process can be done with chocolate porridge but different ingredients achieve different results. The best chocolate to use is pure cacao tablets or blocks. These are basically organic cacao seeds that were toasted, ground up, and then compacted. Using these would give you the most satisfying flavor of both bitterness and tanginess.

Finally, you can add strips of chicken and stock to the rice and turn it into porridge. Throw in some crushed ginger, sliced scallions, and some salt and pepper to taste. You are going to absolutely love the results and might even start cooking mushy rice as an excuse to do this.

Fixing Undercooked Rice Properly.

If your rice is undercooked, the fix is to usually just add more water. However, depending on the cooking method you use, you might want to give this some more thought. In the case of rice cookers, you should add water slowly and keep pressing down on the “cook” button until you get the results you need.

Don’t do this too often, though, or you will break your cooker. It helps to get to know your device beforehand to know its quirks, as well, since not all rice cookers are the same. Some will inevitably have their unique traits.

In the case of cooking the rice in a pot, take it off the fire and add a little bit of water. Important reminder: Do Not Stir. Just let the water settle in first before returning the pot on the stove and make sure that the flames are set in low. Most important of all is to keep an eye on it.

Keep testing the grains to see if they are cooked properly and if not, you can repeat the process. Just remember that the idea is to allow the starch in the rice to absorb the water by introducing heat. All you are trying to do is encouraging the rice grains to sponge up the moisture so that it will be glutinous and to have the right structure.

You won’t have to worry about this too much if you are using the risotto method since the rice will get cooked when you start mixing in the flavorings. Just make sure that you achieved the right texture, by then.

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