500 g/1 lb/2 1/2 cups short grain white rice
600 ml/20 fl oz/2 1/2 cups water
5 cm/2 in piece dried kelp (optional)
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons mirin
Wash rice several times in cold water and drain well for 1 hour, then put into a saucepan with the measured water. If using kelp, wipe over with a slightly damp cloth and add it to the pan. Bring to the boil, turn heat very low, cover and steam for 15 minutes without lifting lid. Remove pan from heat and leave it covered for 10 minutes longer. Discard kelp and turn rice into a large bowl.
Mix seasoning ingredients together until sugar is completely dissolved, heating it slightly, but cool completely before adding to rice. Spread rice on a large dish. Pour cooled dressing over the rice and mix gently but thoroughly through. Fan the rice to cool it quickly to room temperature.
To make mounds of rice for nigiri-zushi, moisten hands with cold water mixed with an equal amount of mild vinegar. Take a rounded tablespoon of sushi rice and form into a neat oval shape a little smaller than the slices of fish used for topping. Fish should completely cover top of the rice mound. Lightly smear one side of fish with wasabi and place it, wasabi downwards, on the rice. Garnish with a strip of nori or pickled ginger. Moisten hands again before starting on next mound of rice to prevent rice sticking.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)