Here’s a list of helpful Japanese kitchen tools that I reach for often. Learn about the uses of each item and where you can buy them.
Besides a rice cooker, pots and pans, the Japanese rely on some handy kitchen helpers that make cooking a lot more efficient at home. Below you’ll find the list of kitchen tools that I use regularly. They are inexpensive and can elevate your cooking quite a bit.
While you don’t need to get every single item from the list, some are highly recommended if you do cook Japanese food regularly.
1. Fine Mesh Skimmer (Must-Have)
What we use it for: To skim off foams or scums 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.
2. Miso Strainer & Miso Muddler
What we use it for: If you make miso soup everyday or regularly, this set of miso strainer and muddler are brilliant tools to add to your kitchen. It makes dissolving miso paste into the soup/ liquid so much easier.
3. Suribachi and Surikogi (Must-Have)
What we use it for: 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 facilitates grinding.
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 (my suribachi mortar is 10 inches/25 cm in diameter, and surikogi pestle is 10 inches/25 cm).
🛒 You can get a set of Suribachi and Surikogi on Amazon.
4. Ceramic Grater (Must-Have)
What we use it for: 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.
🛒 You can get one on Amazon.
5. Otoshibuta/ Drop Lid (Must-Have)
What we use it for: 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.
🛒 You can get it from:
- Wooden otoshibuta (MTC Kitchen)
- Adjustable stainless steel otoshibuta (Amazon, MTC Kitchen, ebay)
- Silicone otoshibuta (Amazon)
* Alternatively, you can make your own otoshibita with aluminum foil (or parchment paper). Learn more here.
6. Hangiri/ Sushi Oke
What we use it for: Hangiri or sushi oke is a traditional wooden bowl for mixing sushi rice or mixed rice. It helps to absorb moisture from recently cooked rice and allows the rice to cool down quickly. The large surface allows you to mix the rice with seasonings or ingredients evenly.
🛒 You can buy hangiri on Amazon.
7. Bamboo Sushi Mat
What we use it for: Made of bamboo, the sushi mat is used to shape sushi rolls and tamagoyaki (rolled omelette) into perfect rolls.
🛒 If you make sushi regularly, you can get a set of this sushi kit (includes hangiri, bamboo mat, and rice paddles) on Amazon.
8. Long Chopsticks (Must-Have)
What we use it for: 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.
🛒 You can buy the long chopsticks on Amazon.
9. Vegetable Cutters
What we use it for: Food presentation is an important element of Japanese cooking. We would cut vegetables such as carrots or mushrooms into decorative shapes to accent and to bring delight to a dish.
🛒 You can get the vegetable cutters on Amazon.
10. Stainless Steel Steamer Basket
What we use it for: This collapsible steamer basket opens up like a flower so you can fit it into a cooking pot or pressure cooker (Instant Pot) of various sizes. It is great for steaming vegetables, eggs, or fish. The clever design makes it dishwasher-friendly and allows for easy storage.
🛒 You can buy the steamer basket on Amazon.
11. Bamboo Skewers
What we use it for: To check the doneness of the food, especially simmered dishes or cakes. We keep them next to the stove together with long chopsticks for easy access.
🛒 You can get these bamboo skewers on Amazon.