When it comes to Japanese cooking, there are a few tools that I consider “must-haves” for beginners and experts alike. Whether you’re looking to set up your Japanese kitchen or just streamlining your cooking processes, these kitchen tools will help you get started with easier (and more fun!) Japanese cooking.
My Favorite Tools for Japanese Cooking
These are truly my favorite things. However, they may include affiliate links, so without costing you anything extra, I’ll earn a small percentage of the sales if you purchase these items through these links. Thank you for your support!
Japanese Cooking Utensils
Pictured above are Kotobuki Japanese Fish Bone Tweezers (Honenuki). These are perfect to remove pesky little fish bones for our weekly sashimi dinner, or on any fish, especially fillets before cooking, etc.
Extra long Natural Bamboo Cooking Chopsticks (Saibashi)
These are great for all your cooking needs, especially when stirring noodles. I also use for any type of stirring, frying and I always use when mixing raw eggs prior to cooking.
Miso Strainer (Miso-koshi)
Mortar and Pestle
Crush and grind seeds and nuts used for all sorts of recipes like gomae (Japanese Spinach Salad) or even use it to make pesto.
Portable Butane Stove Burner
I love cooking at the dining table with our portable stove burner in front of family and guests. It is festive, and your guests do a lot of the work helping to cook! I use for any type of nabemono, for making sukiyaki, for fondue, etc. The list is endless!
This is basically a personal-sized whisk that you can use to make your miso smooth and break up the lumps. I use when I am making a small amount of miso soup, or for other small whisk needs.
Japanese Grater (Oroshigane)
I use this to grate ginger, daikon radish if only needing a little, garlic, wasabi, and so on.
Tip: Wash as soon as you are done, otherwise the condiment sticks to the grater, and it is hard to clean!
We love this with all the noodles we cook! Great for making individual portions too.
Rice Spatula/Paddle (Shamoji)
A shamoji is used to mix and serve rice. While traditionally they were made from bamboo, plastic is more commonly used today.
Japanese Wooden Drop Lid (Otoshibuta)
Drop lids keep your ingredients submerged to allow heat to distribute evenly and avoiding breakage from prodding the ingredients. I use all the time when cooking.
Making dipping sauces? Not only is a grater that works great for daikon (or anything that needs grated) but it’s special because of the draining net to remove excess moisture!
Kamenoko Tawashi Scrub Brushes
These handmade natural brushes have been cleaning my dishes, utensils, and pots and pans for years along with my fruits and vegetables too.
Japanese Rice Cooker (Suihanki)
The key to perfect rice every time is an electric rice cooker, especially if you need to make a lot!
Japanese Utensils for Eating and Serving
Hot Pots (Donabe)
Earthernware pots are used for all Japanese nabemono (one pot/hot pot) dishes. You can even use it to cook lots of other dishes at the dining table. It’s great for both cooking in and serving from it.
Chushin Kobo Cast Iron Chopstick Rest “Sleeping Dog”
Okay so maybe these aren’t exactly essential, but they’re so adorable, I had to include them. I’m a firm believer that you can’t have enough chopsticks or chopstick holders! They are too much fun especially when guests come over. They love to pick out their own to use for dining. They also make cat versions, too!
Portable Bento Chopsticks (Uki Hashi)
Reduce waste and ditch the disposables, plus it feels more special to have your own special pair. These Uki Hashi chopsticks are especially nice as their design allows for them to support themselves, eliminating the need for a Chopstick rest (though I still say those dog rest ones are a must buy!)
Kurikyu Odate Bentwood Rice Container
This wooden container is fantastic for storing leftover rice! It keeps the rice humid and the antiseptic effoct of the Japanese cedar protects the rice. It also keeps the rice from becoming yellow or hard. Perfect for serving and storing!
If you’re brand new to Japanese cooking, I also very much recommend this starter kit from The Japanese Pantry!
And if you’re not new to Japanese cooking, I’d love to know in the comments below – what do you find to be the most essential tool in Japanese cooking?
I too once lived in Japan, though only for 3 years (Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo). I could not cook (either Japanese food or Western food) without a Nakiri (vegetable knife) and a Yanagi (sushi and sashimi slicer). I also prefer the Japanese fish scaler to a Western one. Also, I think the Hangiri (open cypress flat bottom bowl) is the best for cooling sushi rice.