Weeknight Cooking

Seasoned Salmon With Warm Sushi Rice

January  9, 2020
11 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Drew Aichele. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 1
Author Notes

Years ago, when I was helping my brother Kevin move from New York to Los Angeles, he took me to a restaurant in Santa Monica where we had sushi with warm seasoned rice. I thought it was the most brilliant thing: Take something familiar like sushi and make it even more comforting by keeping the rice warm and injecting the cool, sweet fish with acid and salt. I’ve replicated those flavors here in this rice bowl, but one could certainly mix and match the fish or, heck, even replace it completely with avocado slices and roasted seaweed snack (which I often do for a lighter vegetarian take). The one thing you shouldn’t skip, though, is the sushi rice—it’ll change your life.

This recipe makes exactly one portion of sushi rice, and if the amount of water seems low to you, just trust me. Because the thing is, it’s not just water that cooks rice; it’s the steam you build up in the pot as well. Which is why a properly cooked pot of rice needs less water than you might realize, especially if what you’re after is perfectly sticky (but still individual, separated, not-mushy) grains.

One note on raw salmon: You should try and find sushi-grade salmon, or fish that’s labeled specifically for sushi. Here’s why: Raw fish, like the kind you eat at Japanese restaurants, is always treated—in other words, frozen in an industrial freezer that can drop the temperature of the fish lower and faster than a home freezer can. The FDA has specific rules about what this means, which Sho Spaeth has gone into great detail about over at Serious Eats. If you can’t find a block of sushi-grade salmon from a market or fishmonger you trust (Whole Foods and Lobster Place are good options), then I’d take a regular center-cut salmon fillet and sear it in a hot pan with some oil. Carve this thinly as you would the sashimi and dress it with the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil, and lay it over the sushi rice.

To dress the bowl, I like to use capers for spike and scallions for poke, and cilantro stems, which are significantly more fragrant than their bruised leaves. A bottle of hot sake and a good novel complete the meal, but they’re in no way required.

Want to hear more about Japanese cuisine and culture? On our new podcast Counterjam—a show that explores culture through food and music—host Peter J. Kim talks sushi stereotypes and the intergenerational immigrant hustle with comedian Yumi Nagashima, rapper G Yamazawa, and producer Dan the Automator—check out the episode here. Eric Kim

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: A Surprisingly Simple Dish I’m Resolving to Cook More. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Warm sushi rice
  • 1/2 cup short-grain white rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Seasoned salmon
  • 4 ounces sushi-grade salmon, thinly sliced (see Author Notes)
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small bundle cilantro stems, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook the rice: (Rice-Cooker Method) Place the rinsed rice and water into a rice cooker and let soak for 10 minutes. Turn the rice cooker on and cook the rice. (Stovetop Method) Place the rinsed rice and water into a small pot and let soak for 10 minutes. Cook over high heat, uncovered, until it comes to a simmer, then reduce heat immediately to the lowest possible setting on your stove and continue simmering gently, covered, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from heat and let sit, still covered, for 10 minutes to steam and get fluffy.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt into the vinegar. As soon as the rice is done (and still hot), quickly but gently fold in the seasoned vinegar until thoroughly mixed. Set aside, covered, until ready to eat.
  3. Season the salmon: Directly on the cutting board where you’ve thinly sliced the salmon, scallion, and cilantro stems, sprinkle the fish with the soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil and toss together with your fingers.
  4. Assemble the bowl: Place the sushi rice into a bowl, then top with the seasoned salmon. Garnish with the scallion, cilantro, capers, and black pepper.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • EmilieTing
  • MRS
  • AK
  • Patricia
Eric Kim was the Table for One columnist at Food52. He is currently working on his first cookbook, KOREAN AMERICAN, to be published by Clarkson Potter in 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at The New York Times, where he works now as a writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ericjoonho.

8 Reviews

EmilieTing March 19, 2023
This was just not good. Shocked because the ratings are good - I was extremely disappointed. Too much vinegar IMO, the instructions were not clear (almost accidentally marinated the garnishing), capers should NOT be added (disgusting), and really just did not taste good. Because of how much vinegar, if you don’t eat immediately (within minutes of marinating) the acidity in vinegar will cook the sashimi… I think it goes without saying that no one wants mildly cooked “sashimi”. I’d have been better off eating the salmon like an apple than wasting time making this.
MRS June 19, 2020
Searing salmon does not make it “safe” for raw consumption. “Sushi grade” fish just means it’s been blast frozen. They do this to kill potential parasites that could be...uncomfortable for humans to ingest. They are killed by freezing or thorough cooking ONLY. Hence why searing doesn’t do anything. What if there is anakasis parasite in the interior of the flesh which isn’t cooked?
AK May 19, 2020
Love this recipe for one; adapted it for two with delicious results! Seared the salmon, steamed brown rice, and added sliced avocado and steamed broccoli.
Patricia April 16, 2020
I used the ratios to make the sushi rice with leftover heated jasmine rice (because sometimes you just crave sushi but it's past midnight) and it turned out very tasty! I'll be sure to properly try it with meat next time but for now, I'll enjoy my my homemade sushi rice while it's abundant! c:
Candice O. February 1, 2020
Delicious! I doubled the recipe, but we sometimes find sushi rice too sweet, so I used just one and a half teaspoon sugar total.
Diem L. January 31, 2020
Ok that sushi rice seasoning is like MAGIC. Now I don’t want to eat rice any other way. Seriously I do not need yet another delicious way to eat carbs
Alison January 21, 2020
I didn't have sushi grade salmon on hand, so I used the recommended substitute of seared salmon tossed with the marinade after cooking, with some quick pickled red onion instead of capers, avocado slices, and a sprinkle of shredded nori--both tasty and easy, a very nice Monday night meal. The seasoned rice was a great idea! This will definitely make a reappearance on my table in various forms.
Darlene January 10, 2020
I often make salmon "cubes" (I'm terrible with good even slices) mixed with avocado cubes with a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil. If I'm feeling fancy I'll sprinkle gomasio on top. One of my favorite splurge just for me meals. But layering it over warm sushi-style rice takes it to the next level. I will definitely have to try this. Thank you for the idea!