5 Essential Utensils for Cooking Japanese Food

  • FOOD
  • HOW TO
  • So you moved to a new land, got yourself a swanky pad, and are going to get to cooking some delicious grub of the land of the rising sun. You may need to stock your kitchen up on the essential ingredients, but you also need some utensils and kitchen goods!

    Get your Japanese kitchen up to par with the following items, they won’t break the bank, and you will look all cool to your friends. Trust me, you WILL look cool.

    1. Earthenware Rice Cooker – (Donabe)

    These are cheap! Basic models costing under or around 2000 Yen. You can find them anywhere that sells kitchen goods, but I often buy them as gifts at home centres for about 1000 – 1500 Yen.

    They standardly are used on gas burners, and the more expensive ones can be used on IH cooktops. Make sure you check if they are IH compatible if you only have IH burners. This is basically a rice cooker, the traditional type. You simply wash your rice, put it in the rice cooker, add the appropriate amount of water and follow the instructions for timing. Standard timing instructions for these cookers are as follows: Cook on medium-high heat until steam and bubbles appear, in about 12-15 minutes, lower the heat to low and cook for another 7 minutes, turn the heat off and let the rice set for 10-15 minutes. Mix and serve!

    Why pay 10,000 Yen or more for an electric model rice cooker? Save space, time, and electricity with donabe! And you can brag you make rice the traditional authentic way!

    2. Rice Paddle – (Shamoji)

    How else are you going to get that delicious white rice out of your new rice cooker? Certainly not with your hand! That stuff is hot!

    Rice paddles come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. You can pick them up anywhere really, from 100 Yen shops to cooking stores. Prices start at 100 Yen and go up depending on material, color, etc. Some of them are even self-standing.

    One of the more common types found in Japanese kitchens is the bumpy plastic one pictured above. This style of rice paddle gives air pockets here and there to allow the rice to slide off the paddle more smoothly than a standard wooden one. After all, it is sticky rice! I like the look with traditional bamboo paddles, but still use the plastic ones at home, they are just easier to use and wash.

    3. Cooking Chopsticks – (Saibashi)

    Once you try cooking with chopsticks, you will simply never go back to your spatula-only-way! Prices start at 100 Yen and up.

    Cooking chopsticks are much longer than those meant for eating, and are most often made of wood, or silicone. They are great for all sorts of cooking techniques, from moving around larger veggies in a pot, flipping meat on a fry pan, deep frying foods, or whipping up eggs to make an omelette.

    Speaking of omelettes, you also need one of these:

    4. Japanese Omelette Pan – (Tamagoyakiki)

    These unique rectangular shaped pans are essential for your breakfast routine. These pans make the perfect shape tamagoyaki as seen in restaurants. Being frying pans, they come in a range of sizes and materials, from single serving to family size, non-stick to copper. I prefer the non-stick smaller ones, as shown above, they don’t break the bank, are easy to wash, and make the perfectly sized omelette. Unless you are feeding a family of 8, get the smaller one, it is sufficient.

    Plan on spending between 1000 Yen to 4000 Yen depending on the brand and quality. Unless you go for the copper ones, those will set you back anywhere from 5000 Yen and beyond. Find them at cookery shops, department stores, or home centres.

    5. Japanese Sauce Pot – (Yukihira Nabe)

    You may have seen these in restaurants, in anime, or on TV, but they are also a standard tool in any Japanese kitchen.

    Due to the material – copper or aluminium – the heat distributes quickly, allowing for fast water boiling, and have a pouring spout on one or both sides. They also cool down quickly, which is great if you need to make a bunch of different things, and are running out of counter space. After a minute or two, the bottom cools considerably, allowing you to place it on a thin pot holder or a few sheets of newspaper without scorching anything. They are most commonly used for making miso soup in the morning, but are very versatile!

    Prices range on these, you can go all out and get a hand hammered one for 10,000 Yen or more, or pick up a more moderately priced option at a home centre, hardware store, or kitchen shop.
    Usually, they cost anywhere from 1000 Yen to 2000 Yen. From personal experience, I say avoid the super cheap ones at discount shops. The handles on these tend to be heavier than the pots, and they easily tip over if they have nothing in them.

    Now that you have stocked your kitchen, get in there, and start cooking some healthy and delicious Japanese food!

    Related Articles:
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    Learn to Cook Tamagoyaki – The Easy And Delicious Japanese Dish

    Feature photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash