Some home cooks go H.A.M. (Hard as a Mother) with their kitchen tools, and if that is you, I got you. If you are the complete opposite, I will also provide the bare essentials and where to buy them.
I have never made a pizza from scratch at home, but I have done tacos (the Mexican way and the gringo/TexMex kind). Yet the bulk of those dishes do not require special tools unless you make your tortillas from scratch, then you need a cast iron tortilla press (except, you know, most of you are out buying Dorito flavored taco shells, aye wey).
The easiest route for preparing sushi is: 1. sliced fish (sashimi), 2. sliced fish/bits of fish/seafood atop sushi rice (chirashi), then 3. handrolls (temaki), 4. rolls (makizushi), and 5. fish atop rice (nigirizushi) being the most difficult.Like choose your own adventure, you can choose your level of difficulty.
Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself, and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. So a big fat thank you to everybody who does purchase through my affiliate links because it is very much appreciated. Also, there are several brands where I get absolutely nothing, but I value legit content over a buck (sharing this content also helps a lot too).
First things First
- “How do you know what sushi chefs use?” I worked a short stint as a sushi chef in a Japanese owned and operated sushi bar.
- You should know that there is difference between Americanized sushi and Japanese sushi. Just like there is a difference between Taco Bell, and real Mexican food.
- The types of sushi I will be focusing on here is: sashimi, rolls, and hand rolls.
The Short List of What You Need to Make Sushi
It cannot get any easier than this, everything you will need at a click of a button: you can make your own sushi making kit vs. some company using products with brands they were able to partner with.Forget the sushi making kits, these are all the top brands used by Japanese/Japanese Americans.
No special tools needed, just your hands.
Raw Fish (Sashimi and Chirashi)
Yup, this is all you need, a very sharp slicing knife: a yanagiba for the ones handy with a knife (single-beveled blade), and a sujihiki for the types that are looking for something a little more versatile and easier to use (double-beveled blade).
For Making Rolls (Makizushi)
- Makisu (rolling mat): typically made of bamboo, these mats roll sushi rolls. If you are wondering do you need one, no, you can do handrolls/temaki instead, just do not expect to do a California roll or any other type without one.
- A good knife: a sharp knife is critical for either slicing fish or cutting up rolls (if you can only buy one knife, a santoku is the most versatile Japanese knife). Although, for a more task specific knife, you will want to purchase a yanagiba or a sujihiki, for most, I would recommend the latter.
You might be a pro at rolling blunts, but you will want the makisu for doing rolls (every sushi chef uses them).
Most of you have seen the bamboo version, so I am stepping up my game to show you an embossed advanced plastic makisu meant to be hygienic and non-stick by Hasegawa (made in Japan). Now there is no need to wrap it in plastic wrap (the image is cropped).
This is a slight deviation of the knife a sushi chef uses which is called a yanagiba. That iteration is single-beveled ultra sharp blade, and the sujihiki is a double-beveled knife which makes it easier for the average Joe/Jane/Juan/Juanita/Junko/Jiro to use.
Yup, that right there is the bare minimum, two things.
The Full List of the Best Japanese Ingredients for Sushi and One Tool to Make Life Easier
If you just want to jump to my focused content, click the (black outlined) button. If you trust my judgement, you can click on the image to go buy online.
You can do powdered wasabi, tubed, frozen, or the priciest option, fresh.
Pictured is the basic Japanese rice vinegar, but you can also purchase the version that already has salt and sugar for the sushi rice seasoning (link below, if not click on the image to add it yourself).
Yea, you don’t have to buy a big ole tin of soy sauce, unless you are Asian or hardcore into Japanese and Asian food. The link is to a smaller 20 oz bottle.
Primarily for rolls and handrolls, and soy wraps are also available via the button directly below, and if you are wondering, the color coding is how the producers differentiate their grades.
You do not have to buy the best Japanese rice for sushi, and I have a list of several Japanese rice brands that will work great if you click on the link below. Although, if you want to be lazy, and let me choose for you, click on the picture.
If you love rolls, I have all the toppings and sauces you will need to make the rolls that every Americanized sushi restaurant does.Japanese only have a few rolls which consist of simple ingredients (tuna, cucumber, green onion) to a vegetarian roll (futomaki)
The restaurant I was at, we would mix our own spicy sauce, and you can do the same which is Japanese Kewpie mayo (made with the yolks only) and the originator of sriracha sauce, Huy Fong. This is only one sauce and if you want to get all the toppings and sauces, click the button directly below.
You might think of Uncle Ben when it comes to rice, but Zojirushi should be adopted into your family if you want rice done right. Well, you still have to wash it, measure the water out, and push the button.
My homie married an Italian dude from Italy, so I am always bugging her for little details of her homemade pasta to pizza. The same goes for this list because I provided you the most popular brands, but I have also listed brands (a family) that you should support, like Riviera Seafood Club in Los Angeles, California.
You do not have to purchase dinnerware only from Musubi Kiln, and you see the top online sellers catering to us American’s in my full listing of dinnerware online sellers.
By now, you can start your own restaurant at home.
If You Are Looking to Go Full Sushi Chef
The rest of the little details.
I have included a mix of vendors, and many of these products are meant to help support Japanese/Japanese American manufacturers/producers and small vendors (many supply restaurants and other businesses).If all these companies were on the lookout for their supporters, like Oishii-desu.com, I’d be able to make it rain otoro for days.
|Cutting boards:||You will be slicing up fish, so having separate cutting boards for your rolls and prepping veggies is ideal.|
|Squeeze bottles:||This is the easiest way to consistently apply sauces (you can Google it yourself on where to buy).|
|Sushi decoration (leaves):||Ideally you would want to use fresh shiso leaves or bamboo leaves, qty 100, ($12.95) although the artificial kind will work too, Plastic Mountain Shaped Decorative Sheet (Yama Baran), qty 1,000, $3.95. Also, anything in your garden (well, not poison oak) can be used as long as it is thoroughly washed and not consumed.|
|Soy sauce dishes:||Too many of you like to have your rolls chillax in a tub of soy sauce like a big dude in Speedo’s in a hot tub, so you need a dedicated soy sauce dish/tub. Well, I have where you can find just that. The first vendor is Koyo out of El Segundo, CA, owned by Akira Takahashi and est. in 1990 (in 2005, Maki Takahashi and their partner took over the reins). The company owns and produces their products in a high-end production facility in China, but they provide logo imprints in-house. The second one is one of my favorites, MTC Kitchen in New York City.|
|Soy sauce dispenser:||You can pour directly from the plastic bottle, but a soy sauce dispenser will give you that restaurant feel (the glass Kikkoman dispensers for two range from $7-14, an Asvel dripless dispenser (asvel.co.jp) will set you back $12, or you can go with a distinctively unique one curated by Kiriko Made out of Portland, OR for, well, more money (click the link to find out how much more).|
If You Are Struggling to Go Full Sushi Chef
If you can’t use chopsticks or tie your shoes, consider a mold.
If you have ever used a Spam tin to form Spam musubi, you will be a natural when using this hinoki cypress mold to produce your oshizushi (you can also use it for Spam).
I Highly Suggest Buying a Hangiri/Handai/Oke
A hangiri also known as a oke/handai or in Murica, a “wooden tub used for mixing rice.”
Ask any sushi chef and what I think is the most critical component is to sushi, and we would all say the sushi rice. So, that is one reason why I suggest buying a hangiri/handai/oke.I sort of liken it to a lobster roll, or a Philly cheesesteak because the wrong bun/bread can ruin the aforementioned (I mean, people swear by Amaroso for cheesesteaks, and I think they nailed it at the Anchor in Venice Beach, CA for lobster rolls).
|$84 to $249||Hitachiya|
Japanese wooden sushi oke-sawara cypress
27cm/11″ (2 cups) to 48cm/19.2″ (20 cups)
|$64||Tachibana (more than a 100 years of history)|
Sushi Oke Wooden Hangiri Bowl with Lid
Made in Japan
|$119||Umezawa (Mokuzai Kougeisya)|
Sawara Cypress Sushi Oke Wooden Bow
Natural sawara cypress (body) / copper (belt)
Made in Japan
Cypress Sushi Oke Hangiri Mixing Bowl with Sanitary Stainless Hoop 28.25″ dia (72 cm)
|$160 to $215||Yamacoh Co.|
Sawara Cypress Handai Sushi Bowl with Lid.
Size: Small: 11.0″ x 4.0″ / 28 cm x 10 cm (ideal for up to 2 – 2.5 rice-cups of rice) | Large: 13.0″ x 3.5″ / 33 cm x 9 cm (ideal for up to 5 rice-cups of rice).
Product of Japan (Gifu)