Sticky Rice, An Eternal Skill | Cúán Greene

Whilst working on some recent restaurant collaborations & his ongoing projects as a chef, Cúán Greene also runs the exploratory food newsletter, the Ómós Digest. The newsletter shares stories about food, culture and community.

We visited Cúán's home as he took us through one of his staple dishes, Tamago Kake Gohan & why an eternal skill, like cooking sticky rice, is an investment worthy of your time. Photography by Babs Daly.

We've included an extract of the Ómós Digest article below. Make sure to subscribe to the weekly newsletter to read in full.

"When Japanese short-grain rice is cooked as it was intended, little else stands in its way. It’s one of the world's greatest food types and learning how to cook it is one of life’s greatest culinary skills. I adore sushi, poke bowls and Japanese breakfasts. Even following a rich Thai curry, rarely will I turn my nose up at a mango sticky rice, doused in condensed milk. The accompaniments to each of these dishes are always wonderful, but for me, the star of the show is the perfectly sticky, catch-all mound that brings the dish together. I have a penchant for this kind of rice. In Japanese restaurants or izakayas, I have long marveled at its pearlescent quality, presuming a rice cooker was required to achieve such a godly quality. In truth, it's not the equipment but the application of the process that yields great results. 

The ability to do something well is not to be overlooked. There is something undeniably humbling about acknowledging good work, invariably, a product of determination, repetition and care. What is more, learning a skill gives you a venerable ability to pass on said skill.

Recipe - Sticky Sushi Rice


  • For the Vinegar 
    • 30 g rice vinegar
    • 8 g salt
    • 18 g sugar
    • 1 Small square of kombu (3x3cm)
  • For the Rice.
    • 250 g sushi rice (125 g per person will provide seconds and a little extra)
    • 250 g water (increase to 300 g if you are not using sushi vinegar)
    • 1 Small square of kombu (3x3cm)


  1. To make the sushi vinegar, place the rice vinegar, salt, sugar and a piece of kombu in a small pan over medium heat. When the liquid comes to the boil, turn off the heat and allow it to infuse. You can also use store-bought sushi vinegar and avoid this step.

  2. To make the sushi rice, place the rice in a medium-sized bowl and add just enough water to submerge. Now discard the water immediately by draining through a sieve.

  3. Repeat this process once more (the milky-starchy water carries impurities which you don’t want to be absorbed by the rice). 

  4. Using your hand, give the damp rice a mix in a circular motion for about 15 seconds. This causes the grains to rub off each other and helps clean the rice. 

  5. Rinse the rice by covering in water and straining immediately. Repeat this wash and rinse process one more time. 

  6. When the water is almost clear, the rice is ready to be cooked. If not, continue the process until it’s almost clear. 

  7. Strain the rice well through a fine-meshed sieve. This process takes a total of 5 minutes. 

  8. Place the 250g of water in a medium-sized pot and add the strained rice. Add the sheet of kombu and let it soak for 10-15 minutes if you can. 

  9. Place the heat on high and bring the rice to a boil. As soon as it boils, reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid, allowing a small gap for steam to escape (make sure to check periodically that it remains at a gentle simmer).

  10. When all the water has been absorbed, taste the rice. It probably won’t be fully cooked through by this stage, so place the lid firmly on top. The residual steam will continue to cook the rice. Although most recipes tell you to keep the lid on for 10 minutes, it’s best to check after 5 to ensure you don’t overcook the rice. The time really depends on the grain you have used (every brand cooks a little differently) and how gently or heavily you simmer the rice (every stove is different). 

  11. When the rice is to your liking, you want to halt the cooking process. This is traditionally done in a wooden sushi oke (rice cooler), but you can do it in the pot using the same method as the oke, or transfer it to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  

  12. Pour a little of the cooled rice vinegar over the back of a spatula or rice paddle. 

  13. Using the side of the paddle, at a 45 degree angle, cut the rice in lines, rather than mixing it. The lines allow steam to escape, while incorporating the vinegar and avoiding damaging the grains. 

  14. When fully cut through, flip the rice over using your paddle and repeat the process. If you really want to take it to the next level, fan the rice, using a rice fan or a Tupperware lid during the cutting process. The fan cools the rice and also brings a brilliant shine to the grain. 

  15. To avoid the rice from becoming dry, place a damp kitchen towel on top. 

  16. An egg yolk is usually mixed in with the rice, coating each individual grain. As an alternative, I also sometimes fry an egg and steam some bok choy dressed in soy sauce and sesame oil to serve."