Here’s a list of essential Japanese kitchen tools that I reach for often. Learn about the uses of each item and why they’re important for cooking Japanese food.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of MTC Kitchen.
I often get asked by readers what Japanese kitchen tools they need to start cooking Japanese food at home. This might surprise you, but most Japanese recipes can be made using pots and pans that you already have. That said, there are some useful Japanese kitchen tools that I highly recommend.
The good news is there aren’t too many and they also don’t take up a lot of space. Most kitchens in Japan are small so the kitchen tools have to be versatile for preparing many dishes.
While you don’t need to get every single item from the list, I noted some of them as must-haves if you do cook Japanese food regularly. For good quality Japanese kitchen tools, my very first go-to is an online shop called MTC Kitchen. They have an amazing selection of authentic Japanese kitchen products, and I’m always happy with the quality and service that they provide.
15 Japanese Kitchen Tools You Want in Your Kitchen
1. Fine Mesh Skimmer (Must-Have)
We use it to skim off foam, debris, or grease on the surface of dashi broth, soups, and stews. It helps to yield a clean look and refined taste for your dish. Also great for picking up fried bits of panko breadcrumbs when deep frying.
🛒 Shop and learn more about fine mesh skimmer.
2. Miso Strainer & Miso Muddler
If you make miso soup every day or regularly, this set of strainer and muddler is brilliant to add to your kitchen. It makes dissolving miso paste into the soup/ liquid so much easier. The last thing you want is finding clumps of undissolved miso paste in your miso soup. The strainer and muddler will solve the problem!
🛒 Shop and learn more about miso strainer and muddler.
3. Suribachi and Surikogi (Must-Have)
Suribachi and surikogi are Japanese-style mortar and pestle. We use them to grind sesame seeds and to mix and mash ingredients. The inside of the ceramic bowl has spirals of fine, jagged grooves that facilitate grinding. You can determine how fine you want your sesame seeds to be.
The bowl has a beautiful rustic look, so you can even use it as a serving bowl directly. I recommend getting a large size one (the suribachi mortar is 10 inches/25 cm in diameter, and the surikogi pestle is 9.5 inches/23 cm).
- Japanese Spinach Salad with Sesame Dressing
- Green Bean Shiraae (Mashed Tofu)
- Instant Pot Potato Salad
- Miso Dressing
🛒 Shop and learn more about suribachi and surikogi.
4. Ceramic Grater (Must-Have)
The ceramic grater is ideal to grate ginger, daikon, and onion. The ring around the bowl is designed to collect the juice which is often added to flavor the dishes. I love this grater and use it often in kitchen. The ceramic tips stay sharp and doesn’t require any maintenance.
🛒 Shop and learn more about ceramic grater.
5. Otoshibuta/ Drop Lid (Must-Have)
Commonly used for simmered dishes, otoshibuta (drop lid) is placed directly on top of the food while cooking. It holds the ingredients in place and ensures the heat is evenly distributed. I like this otoshibuta since it’s adjustable and can fit to various size pots.
- Simmered Kabocha Squash
- Japanese Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- Chikuzenni (Simmered Chicken & Vegetables)
🛒 Shop and learn more about otoshibuta drop lid.
* Alternatively, you can make your own otoshibita with aluminum foil (or parchment paper). Learn more here.
6. Hangiri/ Sushi Oke
Hangiri or sushi oke is a traditional wooden bowl for mixing sushi rice or mixed rice. It helps to absorb moisture from freshly cooked rice and allows the rice to cool down quickly. The large surface allows you to mix the rice with seasonings or ingredients evenly. I find it very helpful when mixing a large amount of rice for a donburi or temaki party.
🛒 Shop and learn more about hangiri.
7. Bamboo Sushi Mat
Made of bamboo, the sushi mat is used to shape sushi rolls and tamagoyaki (rolled omelet) into perfect rolls. There’s really no substitute for rolling sushi.
🛒 Shop and learn more about bamboo sushi mat.
8. Long Chopsticks (Must-Have)
The length of these long chopsticks is twice the size of the regular eating chopsticks, making them sturdier and safer to use for cooking.
They are all-purpose and are great for scrambling eggs, stir-frying, cooking noodles, and for picking up ingredients from hot pots. The chopsticks are also often used as a temperature checker for deep frying.
🛒 Shop and learn more about long chopsticks.
9. Bamboo Skewers
To check the doneness of the food, especially simmered dishes or cakes. We keep these bamboo skewers next to the stove together with long chopsticks for easy access. You don’t want to use a long chopstick since it is too thick and could break the food apart.
🛒 Shop and learn more about bamboo skewers.
10. Yukihira Nabe
This yukihira nabe is a stainless steel pot that can be used on all types of cooking surfaces and perfect for making soup, stew, simmered food, and Japanese sweets like red beans. Yukihira nabe heats up very quickly since it’s thin and has spouts on both sides for easy pouring.
It also has measurement marks on the inside of the pot so I always know if I have the correct amount of liquid or food. I have many different sizes at home and they can be easily stacked on top of each other to save room. Yukihira nabe is typically made from aluminum, steel, or copper.
🛒 Shop and learn more about yukihira nabe.
11. Serving Ladle for Hotpot
Japanese food has many simmered dishes. The slotted serving ladles are great for picking up ingredients but leaving the liquid behind. It’s very useful when eating hot pot or other food where you don’t want excess sauce or liquids. Perfect for serving food from the pot into smaller dishes or bowls.
🛒 Shop and learn more about serving ladle.
12. Electric Rice Cooker
I’ve had an electric rice cooker in my kitchen for as long as I remember. For cooking Japanese rice, electric rice cookers do all the heavy lifting and result in perfectly cooked rice each time. When comes to cooking for the family, I love being able to set timers for the rice to be ready in the morning or at dinner time without any worries. It’s worth investing in a good rice cooker because it will serve you for a very long time.
🛒 Shop and learn more about electric rice cooker.
13. Iwatani Gas Burner
Foods taste the best when they’re freshly made, and you can’t get any fresher than cooking at the table. We often use the portable butane stove to cook various hot pots and grilled meats. Sometimes we use it to keep food simmering at the dinner table. We really like Iwatani’s burners since the heat is very consistent and has high 12,000 BTU output.
🛒 Shop and learn more about gas burner.
14. Donabe Earthenware Pot
I have many donabe at home and absolutely love these beautiful versatile earthenware pots. They retain heat extremely well even after you turn off the stove. We use them primarily for hot pot, but also for cooking rice soup, noodles, and other dishes. The experience of serving and enjoying food from a donabe is simply unbeatable.
🛒 Shop and learn more about donabe earthenware.
15. Hinoki Cypress Wood Cutting Board
My favorite cutting boards are made from hinoki (Japanese cypress). Hinoki cutting boards have several benefits compared to other types of wooden cutting boards. The wood is soft so I am able to keep my knife edges sharp without dulling them. Also, it is naturally antimicrobial and has a great smell. Lastly, I enjoy the easy maintenance since they don’t need to be oiled.
I love the cutting board in the photo above since it has a folding foot and can stand up to dry by itself.
🛒 Shop and learn more about hinoki cypress wood cutting board.