Do you think fondly of tools in your kitchen? It’s great when you find items of high quality that last for years and make work in the kitchen easier and more beautiful. I have found that many of my Japanese tools are high quality and I consistently use them because of their craftsmanship and beauty. Here are my favorite Japanese tools in my kitchen!
This is day 8 of 12 Days with Chef Veggie!
Shun Nakiri Knife 6.5in
In February 2020, I purchased this Shun Nakiri knife with some birthday money I received. Up until this time, I had been using a nice Henkels Santoku for thin vegetable cuts. I got that knife when I started cooking for clients. We purchased a Spain-made Henkels knife set 18 years ago but really only used the bread knife, paring knife, and chef knife. What do you vegans do with those extra knives meant for meat and fish anyway? I need to give them away!
This is my favorite knife now and I use it whenever I cut vegetables. I love it because it’s lighter and fits my small, thin hand better. The blade is also thinner and has beautiful Damascus steel layers. I love the blunt rounded edge and the way it slices so thinly.
The only drawback is that it can rust quite quickly and needs to be treated with care. Don’t cut large, hard winter squash with this knife because it’s too refined for that. I baby this knife and it has its own Japanese cotton cloth that I use to dry it before I put it away. Shun also offers lifetime sharpening service when the time comes.
Zojirushi Bread Machine
Zojirushi makes some of the best rice cookers and insulated food and beverage containers out there but did you know they also make bread machines? This particular machine is even older than my teenage daughter! It’s the BBCCX20 Home Bakery Supreme! I remember it being quite an investment for us as a young couple but we wanted to make our own bread consistently. We bought our Vitamix the same year and both are solid!
This machine can make bread, cakes, dough and jams/jellies. When the pandemic began we were making bread at least twice a week with this machine and also sourdough in a Dutch oven. Here’s the latest bread machine from Zojirushi.
Vintage Japanese Nabe Pots
When my family lived in Japan, my mom bought these nabe pots. I had a simple one I bought years ago but she gave me hers last year because I wanted to use them more consistently and to take photos of them for my cookbook.
These beautiful clay pots can be used to make Asian style hot pots at your table. It’s the perfect way to slow down and connect with your family. We have had more of these style meals this year than ever before because we are home together every night. I’ll be including many recipes for nabe and other dishes in my cookbook.
If you are looking for a lightweight and easy to clean mandoline, consider this one made by Benriner. The width of your slice is easily adjustable and the blade can be removed to sharpen or replace. It also comes with a julienne blade. There is a new and improved version that features a non-skid rubber base. Benriner also made one of the first vegetable spiralizers on the market. I don’t use mine as much anymore.
If you have ever had the delicious meals at Koriente with all of the veggies thinly sliced, know that they are using this wonderful tool to cut many pounds of cucumbers and other veggies!
OMG! I have so many! When I lived in Japan in elementary school, my mom bought us cute bento boxes. I still have a Hello Kitty one. I started collecting tools since my daughter was a preschooler and the whole bento scene exploded around that time. Animal onigiri makers, vegetable cutters, specialty food picks, sandwich and toast pressers, nori punches, sauce pens, mini shoyu bottles, and more! I collected these from different Japanese stores in the US and Japan. Daiso opened in Austin this year but I have yet to go!
This is the most recent pic of a Kyaraben (Character Bento) that I made. Koedachan (twig girl) is a nature toy line that has been around since 1978. I got a little star figure when I was living there during preschool!
Doing this post actually helped me organize. I need to pare down my collection! Stay tuned for a giveaway!
This is the cutest grooved mortar and pestle! I usually use it to make a small quantity of gomashio, a toasted sesame seed and salt condiment.
It’s a great way to slow down, be mindful and use an artisan made tool to make a tasty topping.
Bamboo Matcha whisk
If you drink ceremonial matcha tea, you know that this bamboo whisk or Chasen is a must. I was on the lookout for a Japanese made one and found this Haru Chasen. I also have several beautiful matcha bowls, including a delicate pink sakura one I got at Asahi Imports here in Austin. The green matcha and pink bowl look lovely together. It’s another way I like to slow down and appreciate beauty.
If you are looking for an eco-friendly scrub brush that lasts a long time, consider a Japanese tawashi made of coconut palm fiber. No plastic in this at all!
When I was growing up, I would see these every time we would visit the kitchen section of any Japanese or Asian store.
The most recognized brand is Kamenoko which means child of the turtle as the brush has a turtle-like shape.
I only started using them a few years ago myself.
It’s great for everyday kitchen scrubbing. Perfect for cast iron and cleaning the bottom of cooked-on stuff in pots.
One caveat is to make sure you rinse it well of any food particles (here’s looking at you rice!) and leave it to dry. My current tawashi is almost a year old and still works great! I also have a small one on a stick to clean hard to reach places in bottles, glasses, and teapots. It’s so cute! I even have a specialty one for exfoliating in my bathroom!
I love taiyaki! These little sweet fish pockets are so hard to find vegan. Basically, I have to travel to the East or West Coast to eat them or make them myself. Since I haven’t traveled in almost a year, that means making them at home. This taiyaki pan makes it easy! 15 years ago you could only find them on Ebay in the US. I bought mine at Hmart in Korean packaging but you can find them on Amazon. My favorite kinds are traditional with red bean paste and not so – matcha cream, vegan nutella, and a Filipino version with ube and vegan cheddar. I’ll be sharing how to make them in my upcoming cookbook!
Hinoki Sushi Kit
Hinoki is a fine grain wood that comes from a special evergreen tree in Japan. It is prized by chefs in Japan for its beauty, humidity resistance, and antibacterial properties. Because of its strength, hinoki is also used in building shrines and temples. It has a lovely fragrance and its essential oil is used to calm and ground the senses.
This sushi kit is the best one I’ve found with the box made in Japan (bamboo mat is made in China).
Making traditional maki rolls is easy because the box holds everything and you can exert balanced pressure when pushing.
Well, that’s it for my current favorites! I’m hoping to add a couple more things to my kitchen in the coming year. Stay tuned for a post of my 2021 Kitchen wishlist!
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