Tools in and around the kitchen are an essential to preparing any dish well. If you don’t have the right stuff for the job, you may not get the same impact out of a dish as you would’ve expected, or it could take you a lot longer to prepare and serve the meal than the time you had set aside to do so. Even worse – you simply may not be able to make what you want. This is especially true of Japanese cuisine; what do you use to roll maki when you don’t have a rolling mat?
Be Prepared – Stock Up
You don’t have to make sure that you have absolutely everything in stock, else it will go to waste. But when it comes to making Japanese-inspired dishes, you will need to have the basics on hand. As previously mentioned, rolling mats are an essential if you are to make traditional maki to go with any sushi meal that you are preparing – but this is probably the most essential as you will get. Things like bamboo rice paddles (for fluffing the sushi rice without impacting the flavour) and a Hangiri (a wooden bowl for the rice which absorbs the right amount of moisture to give you the right texture for the rice that you are to be rolling) are nice things to have on hand, but aren’t needed if you aren’t that fussed and can improvise with other things.
Get the Right Knife
This is quite an important one to consider. If you have old, blunt knives or ones that simply aren’t quite up to the task of slicing impeccably through meat or fish without dragging it and ruining the look of the dish, consider replacing them. There are companies out there that specialise in cutlery which is designed especially for the cuisine that you may be experimenting with – Kamikoto is a good example of knives designed for Japanese cooking. Remember that many Japanese dishes rely on the skill of precision to give the desired theater and effect for the food that they have created. Japanese chefs pride themselves on their presentation, and you should too.
Choose the Correct Appliance
What you cook on can affect the authenticity of your dish. If you have an electric hob at home, there are some things that may not be able to be done – flambé, for example, cannot be practised unless dipped into the flame that a gas hob can provide. Know the limits that are set to you by what you are cooking on and don’t be disappointed when you can’t perform a particular trick that you have seen done in your favourite Japanese restaurant – you will never go to a restaurant and see a professional chef cooking on electric, but for some it’s just not practical within the home to have any different. Don’t set your sights too high on things that you cannot achieve … know what you’ve got and what you can work with and concentrate on putting your all into creating a fantastic dish to enjoy.