Some home cooks go H.A.M. (Hard as a Mother******) with their kitchen tools. If that is you, I got you, although I will also be providing the sushi making tools 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.
First things First
- How do I 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 the Bare Essentials of What You Need
- Makisu (rolling mat): typically made of bamboo, these mats roll sushi rolls.
- 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).
Where to Buy and the Best Japanese Ingredients for Sushi
If you just want to jump to my focused content, here are the categories:
- The best Japanese rice cookers.
- The best rice/sushi rice.
- Sashimi/sushi grade fish/seafood.
- Japanese knife brands.
- The best nori/seaweed.
- The best wasabi.
- The best soy sauce for sushi.
- Sauces and toppings for sushi rolls.
Almost Everything You Need to Prepare/Serve Sushi
Aside from listing multiple cutting boards, I will only be listing Japanese or sushi specific equipment, tools, and dinnerware.
I have included a mix of vendors (very minimal links to Amazon, if any), and many of these products are meant to help support Japanese/Japanese American manufacturers/producers and small vendors (many supply restaurants and other businesses).I pride myself on not being an Amazon Associate ho, and not a single one of these other companies drops me a dime. I do it because this is the type of content I want (legit content is good content).
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).
- Rice cooker: The proper way to cook short-grain rice with a push of a button is with a Japanese rice cooker (from your basic ones starting at $35 to cookers utilizing fuzzy logic to get your rice just right, and more than right, like super ichiban right).
- Hangiri (wooden mixing tub): The best way to mix sushi rice is with a cedar tub because it absorbs excess moisture when mixing your shari su (vinegared sushi rice mixture) into your rice. Since I believe this is an essential tool, I will have several products listed below (you can also see a manufacturer (Shimizu Mokuzai) here, but they do not sell direct to the public).
- Makisu (rolling mat): Typically made of bamboo, this is a core tool for sushi chefs to roll sushi rolls. You can purchase it on Amazon, but I highly suggest you consider Korin (NYC) for your makisu needs. They offer up your base level makisu, like this Kyo Makisu Bamboo Sushi Mat for $7.95, or a non-stick plastic product with a monofilament string that does not collect food particles. The latter product by Hasegawa measures 10″L x 9.5″W in size, for $29.95 (not like the small one, 10 x 6.5″ people b*tch about on Amazon – In Japan, they don’t have a Jessica albacore/rainbow rolls, so this smaller product is used for hosomaki, or a single ingredient roll).
- Cutting boards: You will be slicing up fish, so having separate cutting boards for your rolls and prepping veggies is ideal.
- A specialized knife: There is a long list of task-specific Japanese knives for filleting, cutting, slicing, and prepping all sorts of ingredients. Although, you will want a specialized sashimi cutting knife, a yanagiba. The yanagiba is a single-bevel knife and the knife you will see most sushi chefs handling.
- Sushi molds: If you don’t feel confident about your rolling skills, a mold will have you feeling like a professional in no time at all such as the one offered by Bento & Co for only $13 (pictured above). In fact, “oshizushi” is a style of sushi from the Kansai region (Osaka to Tottori) that uses molds/presses.
- Squeeze bottles: This is the easiest way to consistently apply sauces (you can Google it yourself on where to buy).
- Sushi serving plate: For presentation purposes, sushi serving plates are a nice touch for hosting a sushi party, and if you like to take things over the top, Musubi Kiln is your goto for sushi plates. Although, if you are on a budget, MTC kitchen to Korin will do just fine.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
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).
Japanese wooden sushi oke-sawara cypress
27cm/11″ (2 cups) to 48cm/19.2″ (20 cups)
$84 to $249
|Tachibana (more than a 100 years of history)|
Sushi Oke Wooden Hangiri Bowl with Lid
Made in Japan
|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)
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)
$160 to $215