If you're a cook or chef interested in Japanese cuisine, there are many tools you will need for your kitchen. Japanese cooks use tools and utensils that are not found in a typical American kitchen, though some are similar. The list of tools needed for a Japanese kitchen may be overwhelming, but there are a few must-have items.
Otoshi-buta (Drop Lid)
Otoshi-butas are lightly weighted lids that come in several different sizes to cover pans when cooking in a Japanese kitchen. These wooden lids are used for simmering the many different vegetables used in Japanese cooking; keeping the vegetables submerged under the water or oil in the pot or pan. The Otoshi-butas are not heavy enough to crush or mash the vegetables in a pan and the open edges allow heat to escape; keeping the water at a steady simmer and not a full boil. It's best to soak these wooden lids in water for several minutes before using. This will keep the residue from simmering liquids from seeping into the wooden lid and leaving a permanent odour.
Oroshigane are lightweight graters, traditionally made from copper clad tin. These graters are used to grate vegetables, herbs and spices commonly used in Japanese cooking, such as daikon radishes and ginger. These graters can also grate other items not specifically used for Japanese cooking, but features a different look than the graters found in a traditional American kitchen. Orioshigane are flat graters with turned up edges on each side and feature a reservoir on the bottom to catch dripped juices from grated foods.
Makisu (Rolling Mat)
Makisu are rolling mats made from bamboo, used predominantly in a Japanese kitchen for rolling the vast varieties of sushi. Sushi is made by stacking the layers of ingredients, such as fish and rice on top of one another. When the stacked layers are complete the bamboo mat or Makisu is rolled to the other end, keeping the contents of the Sushi rolls in place.
These are made for non-professional home cooks. More professional knives are available for Japanese cooking, but cost significantly more and are only recommended for professional chefs. Kasumi-yaki knives or Japanese knives in general, differ from traditional American knives. These knives are not made top heavy on the blade end, but are balanced evenly on both ends because Japanese cutting requires movements of the whole arm, not just bending of the wrist. Different kasumi-yaki knives are available for the cutting different foods, such as vegetables and fruits, fish and shashimi. Japanese knives should be sharpened using only a whetstone.
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