Jenny323 7:49pm, 11 April 2007
Is the vinegar added to sushi rice just for flavor? Or does it help the rice to stick when rolled in sushi or formed into onigiri? I like the vinegar taste in my sushi, but I think I would prefer plain rice in my onigiri. Just wondering if anyone had tried it without the vinegar.

ilynne 15 years ago
I make my onigiri with plain rice. I am pretty sure it is supposed to be plain for onigiri.

I do use short-grain japanese rice. When I want brown rice, I have found that a mix of Nishiki & Lundberg Sweet Brown make great onigiri. But I am still experimenting.
anhster 15 years ago
i don't notice the taste of the sushi vinegar when i put it in...still taste the same to me.

i think it's used to give the rice a nice glossy finish and to help get rid the smell of fish like tuna or whatever.
Sakurako Kitsa 15 years ago
I use jasmine rice for my onigiri. If I only rinse once, and I use a teaspoon of ghee, it turns out perfectly, and I love the aroma. Basmati's good too, but I'm on a jasmine kick right now.

You might want to double-check Biggie's thread on bento health, but I think that the vinegar can be important for bacteria control in non-refrigerated bentos.
Eudocia 15 years ago
I personally don't like the vinegared rice at all, and even when I make sushi I don't use any. But even without vinegar the rice sticks together fine. However, I only use short grain rice and to be safe I add a little extra water to the rice before cooking.

ilynne - I'll have to try your brown rice combo.
Sakurako - I never thought the long grain rices would hold together, but after seeing your bentos I became a believer. Thanks for the tips.
pointybunny 15 years ago
The vinegar gets rid of the smell of raw fish, so its for taste and smell.
i use broken jasmine rice for my onigiri and sushi.
it smeLLs good and i don't need to use any vinegar.
Jenny323 15 years ago
I think you're right about the antibacterial property of the vinegar. I usually pack my bento the night before, pop it in the fridge overnight, and then leave it on my desk so it is about room temp at lunchtime. I rarely heat them. I wonder if that's just asking for a case of food poisoning?
chiisai_bara 15 years ago
I agree with Sakurako too. I believe the vinegar helps "preserve" the rice to keep it better, aside from the gloss factor. Sushi rice can last a day at room temperature (info from various japanese recipe books).

I taste vinegar in the onigiris I buy at my local Japanese supermarket and they're not kept chilled, though cleared by the end of the day (sale at half price!). I follow suit and always make my onigiris with vinegar, which are left at room temperature from late night till the next day's lunch. They taste fine and I've never felt otherwise.

Personally, I do recommend that you heat the rice before consumption if you do not add vinegar. I would. But that's just my view. Let's hear the other votes.
V_Cogs 15 years ago
Wow...I'm a bit worried now. I have a bad habit of leaving rice in my rice cooker and just scooping it out when I want some. I don't use the vinegar (don't like the taste) and never reheat the rice either. THAT'S asking for food poisoning! I swear, I didn't know rice went bad that fast!
margamanaloto 15 years ago
when I make maki or nori rolls, I always put rice vinegar, but one time i forgot to put some when I was makin lots of it for my boyfriend's bday party. The taste wasnt bad at all. Though in my opinion rice vinegar brings out that authentic japanese flavor of that dish. Well I learned that no matter how enjoyable makin rice rolls NEVER play with your rice, even the rice that fell on the table Don't pick them and serve with the other rice rolls. Uh-Uh! hygiene please!
Food, Fash, Fit 15 years ago
Rice vinegar is added to the sushi rolls for taste and antibacterial properties, but I'm sure that the reasons behind it are historical, as traditionally sushi was a method of preserving the fish with salt and rice. The rice was actually thrown away, and just the fish was eaten, and then gradually traditions changed until nigiri was created in Tokyo in the 19th century - vinegared rice and a topping. I think the vinegar is left over from this time of preservation, and it's still handy to keep sushi fresh as as far as I'm aware, you're not supposed to put prepared sushi rice in the fridge.

I've never heard of putting rice vinegar in onigiri to be honest - I've got plenty of Japanese cook books and none of them mention it. But if you enjoy the taste, go for it.
Robyn the slug 15 years ago
the vinegar also kills bacteria and helps preserve the rice.
it's very easy to get food poisoning from leaving rice out!
Bacillus Cereus lives in rice and is NOT killed by boiling. Leaving rice out at room temp will help to multiply this nasty bacteria.

If you do cook rice, cool it quickly and keep it refrigerated or risk food poisoning.
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