Rice plays a significant role in many diets across the world. While there are thousands of varieties of this popular grain, two of the most prominent are glutinous (also known as sticky or sweet rice) and sushi rice (which also happens to be sticky).
The real question is: is sushi rice glutinous rice?
To some extent, the answer is yes. However, there are also significant differences between the two types of rice that ought to be addressed.
While this may sound confusing at face value, you will be all clued up when it comes to glutinous vs. sushi rice by the end of this article. Let’s dig in.
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Are Glutinous Rice and Sushi Rice the Same?
No, they are not. Although glutinous and sushi rice belongs to the same family, they are more like sisters than twins.
On the one hand, you have glutinous rice, primarily used in meals such as mochi (rice cakes) and traditional Japanese sweets such as sekihan.
Although it can be used for savory meals, the rice’s relatively high sweetness makes it the ideal ingredient for cakes and sweets.
On the other hand, this rice has negligible levels of amylose and high quantities of amylopectin, which are vital components responsible for its stickiness.
As its name suggests, sushi rice is best known for being a key component of – you guessed it – sushi.
However, it can also be used in making rice balls or any other rice-based savory meals. These tend to follow East Asian recipes.
While some other rice types can work just fine for sushi, the Japanese short-grain is often the perfect choice for creating these delicious rolls. Calrose rice makes for a great secondary option.
Can I Substitute Sushi Rice for Glutinous Rice?
In theory, yes. However, it’s worth remembering that sushi rice and glutinous rice serve completely different purposes in the kitchen.
Traditionally, glutinous rice is used for sweeter dishes, so using it to make a sushi roll might not have the desired effect.
While there are certainly exceptions to this rule, most people would prefer not to replace sushi rice recipes with glutinous rice.
On the other hand, replacing glutinous rice with traditional sushi rice is a definite no-no if you are referring to the ingredient seasoned with salt and vinegar.
The word sushi itself literally translates to sour-flavored rice. If you’re making a sweeter dish like mochi or sekihan, this option obviously won’t work (unless you’re into that kind of thing).
Essentially, it would be like dipping chocolate into gravy.
However, a misunderstanding often occurs when “sushi rice” is used to label standard uncooked short-grain Japanese rice in grocery stores.
Despite its meaning, this type of rice is just simple, plain, unseasoned rice that you can use as you wish.
If you purchase uncooked sushi rice (short-grain or not), it will be easier to use as a glutinous rice substitute for sweet dishes.
Perhaps it would be easier if it were labeled “rice for sushi” or just “short grain” to clear up any confusion, but that’s another story.
Glutinous Rice vs. Sushi Rice: Similarities
Although used for different purposes, there are some similarities between sushi rice and glutinous rice.
For instance, both are pretty sticky in texture – although glutinous rice is far more glue-like between the two.
What’s more, both glutinous and sushi rice are dietary staples for dishes in Southeast and East Asia. Plus, both glutinous and sushi rice tend to be short-grain varieties.
Another similarity between glutinous rice vs. sushi rice is how they are stored.
Both options should be eaten within 24 hours of preparation since they only last for a day or two in the fridge.
However, sushi rice and glutinous rice need to be tightly sealed and placed in a refrigerator within an hour and a half after preparing the mixture or dish.
Both sushi rice and glutinous rice are similar in that neither contains gluten.
In fact, glutinous rice is often used as a healthy alternative to gluten grain. This is excellent news for anyone with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease.
Glutinous Rice vs. Sushi Rice: Differences
Despite their differences, people tend to mix up glutinous and sushi rice mainly because both types become sticky once cooked.
To add to the confusion, many refer to both options as “sticky rice.” Despite this, the two kinds of rice couldn’t be more opposed.
The main difference between these two rice dishes is that they are used for different culinary purposes in the kitchen.
As mentioned above, glutinous rice tends to be the go-to for sweeter options, whereas sushi rice is better suited to savory dishes.
Sushi rice is made using Japanese short-grain, while glutinous rice includes Indica, Japonica, and Tropical Japonica strains.
Typically, sushi rice also contains more moisture than glutinous rice.
Additionally, sushi rice contains a generous amount of amylose and amylopectin as crucial ingredients. The extra amylose gives this rice a softer texture after it cools down.
Glutinous rice, however, is mainly comprised of amylopectin, hence why it is mostly sticky after cooking. There is only ever a tiny amount of amylose present in glutinous rice, or none at all.
Comparison Table: Glutinous Rice vs. Sushi Rice
To help you get an even better idea of the similarities and differences between glutinous and sushi rice, I’ve crafted a comparison table below.
|Glutinous Rice||Sushi Rice|
|Short Grain||Grain Size||Short Grain|
There’s no doubt that rice is a favorite dish in many households. In fact, it’s a staple ingredient in many countries of the world.
When considering glutinous vs. sushi rice, the one you choose to use all depends on what you’re planning to make.
Are you planning on making your own sushi rolls? Go for sushi rice. Want to make rice cakes? It’s best to go for glutinous rice.
Although the two rice types are generally used for altogether different purposes in the kitchen, why should there be a competition between glutinous vs. sushi rice? Why not incorporate both when next hosting guests?
You can use sushi rice to make either sushi rolls or a rice bowl for your main meal. Later, you can satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth by making rice cakes or pudding using glutinous rice.