Calrose Rice for Sushi: Everything You Need to Know

Do you want to make sushi, but you only have Calrose rice at home or your nearby store?

Well, you’re lucky because using Calrose rice for sushi is completely fine and doesn’t affect the flavor or construction of your sushi.

In fact, it’s often an alternative to the traditional short-grain Japanese white rice.

So, does that mean that Calrose rice and the short-grain Japanese white rice are interchangeable? Not entirely – there still are a few differences you should know.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about using Calrose rice vs. sushi rice.

calrose rice for sushi

Is Calrose Rice Good for Sushi?

Calrose rice is a kind of medium grain rice cultivated in California. “Cal” refers to a product from California, while “rose” refers to medium grain rice.

It was developed by Japanese-Americans in 1948 and used as the economic rice of choice in the United States.

This type is not authentic Japanese rice but has a well-balanced flavor with minimal stickiness and is robust enough for sushi.

It’s also used for other Japanese meals, in-home cooking, and Japanese restaurants across the country.

If you can’t find Japanese rice, the best thing is to use Calrose instead. Due to such widespread use, Calrose rice is often said to as the Western equivalent of authentic Japanese rice.

Additionally, the mild flavor makes it ideal for sushi and a wide range of other dishes.

When preparing Calrose rice, it’s better to wash and rinse it with water before cooking. This removes most of the starch and keeps the rice from sticking or mushing.

A good rule is to cook it for about 20 minutes and then steam it for another 10.

So, can Calrose rice be considered sushi rice? If you think of sushi rice just as rice used commonly for sushi, then yes.

However, when mentioning sushi rice, most people would think of the short-grain Japanese white rice to which vinegar is added.

What Is the Difference Between Calrose Rice and Sushi Rice?

Place of Origin

The first difference between Calrose rice and the short-grain Japanese white rice typically referred to as sushi rice is the place of origin.

Calrose was developed in California in the 20th century. Japanese white rice was cultivated in Japan, and it was only used to keep the fish fresh at first.

It wasn’t until the mid-seventeenth century that it was used for making sushi.

Type of Grain

The second most significant difference is the grain.

Calrose rice is a medium-grain rice type. Compared to long-grain rice, medium-grain rice is shorter and drier but less starchy than short grain.

When it’s hot, it’s light and airy, but as it cools, it begins to clump together. When cooked properly, the starches in the rice are released, resulting in a creamy, decadent meal that doesn’t leave a gummy aftertaste.

Japanese white rice, on the other hand, is short-grain rice.

Cooked grains form sticky clumps that are round, thick, and starchy. Because you don’t have to pick it up one grain at a time, it’s usually the kind of rice that can be eaten with your hands or chopsticks.

Short-grain rice is essential for dishes that call for a high stickiness and viscosity.

Water to Rice Ratio

A third difference is the water to rice ratio when cooking. When it comes to sushi rice, the water ratio is lower than regular rice.

The ideal ratio is 1:1, meaning one cup of rice and one cup of water. However, depending on how you cook, it can go up to 1:1.2.

When it comes to cooking Calrose rice, the ratio is usually 1:1.3 or 1:1.4 also depending on how you cook it.

Both types of rice can be prepared in an instant pot, rice cooker, or on the stove.

Cooking Process

The cooking process itself is also slightly different.

Rice vinegar, salt, and sugar are necessary ingredients for making traditional Japanese sushi rice.

First, soak the rice for 30 minutes after being washed and rinsed many times.

Once cooked, the rice must be seasoned with vinegar, salt, and sugar. The combination of sour, salty, and sweet flavors found in these three components will ensure that your sushi tastes just right.

The Calrose preparation process is slightly easier.

You should cook it for about 20 minutes, then leave it to steam for another 10 minutes after that.

Then you can add vinegar, salt, and sugar to get an authentic sushi rice flavor.

Comparison Table: Calrose Rice vs. Sushi Rice

 Calrose RiceSushi Rice
OriginCalifornia, USJapan
GrainMedium-grainShort-grain
ConsistencySticky when coldVery sticky
Rice-to-Water Ratio1:1 – 1:1.21:1.3 – 1:1.4
Cooked InInstant pot, rice cooker, or on the stoveInstant pot, rice cooker, or on the stove

Where Can I Buy Calrose Rice for Sushi?

If you live in the United States, you can find Calrose rice in almost any supermarket.

Or, if you don’t feel like going to a store, you can always order it online. You can order it from Amazon for under $10. This is especially handy if you live outside the US.

Here are my favorite brands of Calrose rice:

In Summary

The type of rice you use is crucial, especially when making sushi. The rice needs to be sticky enough to make the rolls.

The American variety’s beneficial features allow you to safely use Calrose rice for sushi instead of traditional Japanese short-grain sushi rice.

Another thing you can look for when choosing the type of rice to use is its rating. The Japan Grain Inspection Association has a rating based on taste tests performed every year to improve and popularize Japanese rice.

The rating is based on five things about cooked rice: the outside appearance, the smell, the taste, the stickiness, and the hardness, and ends with the overall rating.

A gram of rice that includes Koshihikari from different places for the year is used as a comparison. Rice is given a grade based on how well it does overall.

Exceptional rice is A+, good rice is A, and rice close to the standard grain is A’. Rice that is a little worse than standard is B, and even worse rice is B’.