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If you’re looking to get into Japanese cooking, or maybe just try some fun new things in the kitchen, we’ve got a list of 11 essential Japanese cooking tools you should definitely pick up! We put in a mix of basic and more advanced tools that we absolutely love, as well as a range of prices, so you should be able to find something to add to your culinary arsenal.
1a. Takoyaki Grill
This takoyaki grill we’re calling 1a because it’s one of two options you have for making these delicious octopus balls. If you’re looking for a standalone grill that’s super easy to pull out and quickly get to work on, this electric takoyaki grill is the perfect option for you. It’s not the most versatile option (see below), but nothing can beat the ease of use with the single on/off switch that heats it to the perfect temperature every time.
1b. Takoyaki Pan
This takoyaki pan is your 1b option that provides more versatility when used in combination with a portable butane stovetop (see below). While this requires two pieces and the knowhow to find the correct cooking temperature, we tend to prefer this over the all-in-one unit above because the portable stovetop can be used for so many other things at the dinner table, as well, like shabu shabu and simply keeping things warm.
We already talked a little about this one above, but Iwatani is a very quality, reliable brand, and this particular model is super low profile, sleek, and comes in handy for so many different purposes at the dinner table. Whether you’re making shabu shabu, yakitori, takoyaki, yakiniku, or just trying to keep something warm throughout the meal, this butane stovetop comes in clutch every time. There’s just something special about eating food literally fresh off the grill.
Here’s one of the most basic tools, but we use them probably the most of any on this list. Long cooking chopsticks are definitely essential Japanese cooking tools that allow you to do everything from flipping gyoza to stirring noodles all while keeping your hands at a safe distance from the pan/pot.
If you’re looking to take a stab at making maki sushi or more intense rolls, you’ll need a set of these bamboo sushi mats! You would use these to roll up the sushi, and while a lot of the similar sushi mats use rounded wooden strips, we much prefer this style of flat strips, which is more traditional.
5. Obanyaki Pan
Obanyaki is one of our favorite Japanese desserts, which is usually an azuki (red) bean-filled pastry, but we love getting creative and filling them with all kinds of things like chocolate and crushed almonds or ham and cheese. This pan is called a mini pancake pan on Amazon, but it can definitely be used easily for obanyaki! And if you’re looking for something a little cuter, check out this pan that puts designs in the flat sides!
6. Sushi Mold
This is pretty self-explanatory, but just like how the bamboo sushi mat is used to make maki sushi, this sushi mold helps you get the perfect nigiri sushi every time. Simply put your sushi rice into the mold, push down with the top piece to compress the rice, and then lay your fish on top!
If you start getting deeper down the rabbit hole of Japanese cooking tools and recipes you’ll absolutely need a set of suribachi and surikogi like this! It’s used to easily muddle and grind up things like sesame seeds to create sauces, seasonings, and more.
Quality rice is the foundation of so much of Japanese cuisine, and while you can cook it in a pot like the olden days, rice cookers make it super easy to set it and forget it, and it’ll cook your rice to perfection while you do other things. But not all rice cookers are created equal. Zojirushi is the gold standard when it comes to these devices and this model is their flagship. With induction cooking technology and top quality parts, you’ll end up with amazing, fluffy rice each time you turn it on. It can make up to 5.5 cups of dry rice, and we swear by this one!
9. Miso Soup Bowl / Spoons
Here are a couple more basic staples that will come in handy for everyday use. These beautifully designed little bowls and spoons are perfect for side dishes like rice, donburi, miso soup, and more. They’re inexpensive and add a nice flare to your dinnerware.
10. Sushi Geta (Wooden Serving Tray)
To round out your sushi gear from above, these geta are the perfect way to serve your creations! They’re super sturdy, gorgeously crafted, and really can be that finishing touch that makes your sushi look pro.
11. Shamoji (Rice Spatula)
And last, but not least, one of the most basic of Japanese kitchen tools, the shamoji is what you use to scoop rice. I tend to go for plastic ones and wet them with water before scooping because that seems to prevent the rice from sticking for the most part, especially compared to wooden ones. But this shamoji is a great, affordable option!
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