When I was staying with my host family in Tokyo, I learnt a lot about what and how they cook. When I returned home, to ease my heartbreak at having left this beautiful country, I decided to turn a little bit of my kitchen into a Japanese one.
Whereas you don’t need all of these items, they can help with creating more authentic Japanese cuisine. Plus your dinner guests are bound to be impressed!
Even if you don’t indulge in Japanese food on a daily basis, investing in a rice cooker is certainly worth it. It is a side that goes with so many cuisines. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve messed up cooking rice. I follow all the ‘rules’ yet more times than not it ends up too sticky, or burnt to the bottom of the pot. I even started buying the microwave rice, but that gets pretty expensive when you are eating a lot of rice. There are a lot of different models to choose from, including appliances that are just a rice cooker, to the all singing and dancing multi cookers, like the popular Instant Pot.
Having some skewers made out of bamboo is a really handy staple to have in your kitchen, whether you are using them for Japanese cooking or not. They are really cheap to buy (check out you local pound shop or supermarket), and have a variety of uses. In Japanese cooking they are useful for grilling food such as chicken – just soak them in water for about 30 minutes beforehand (this stops them from burning). Try and get thin skewers. I use my bamboo skewers for both cooking Japanese recipes as well as roasting the odd cheeky marshmallow!
Definitely a practised art. I certainly made an amusing dinner guest when eating at friend’s houses in Japan. I like to think I got better with time, but it certainly took a lot of concentration to look like a natural (if I ever did?!) Whether you want to eat with them all the time, or just bring them out to theme your Japanese dinner party, you can buy some beautiful looking chopsticks. They vary quite considerably in price, be realistic about how often you are going to use them, or whether they are going to be more of a show piece.
A sushi tub, also known as a ‘hangiri’ or ‘handai,’ is really useful if you are a regular sushi consumer. It usually made out of Japanese cypress wood which helps to absorb and excess moisture in the rice. A hangiri is used to mix rice and vinegar seasoning. The shape of the tub allows the rice to be spread out and cool more quickly. This isn’t an essential kitchen product, but is handy if you don’t already have a larger mixing bowl to use.
Every kitchen needs a quality set of knives. Spending money on a good set is a worthy investment, for they should last you a lifetime. There is nothing quite so frustrating as a below par knife that just doesn’t cut efficiently. It is worth investing in a quality all purpose knife, as well as a smaller vegetable knife. Make sure you keep your knives sharpened regularly.
Bamboo Sushi Mat
Bamboo mats are not expensive to buy and are really useful for rolling up sushi. They really help to make your homemade sushi attempts look quite professional. Make sure you get one that is easy to clean and well made so that it doesn’t fall apart quickly.