Whether you have visited Japan or simply experienced the wonders of its cuisine, you have most likely been inspired to reproduce a favorite dish at home. We invite you to take the initiative and learn how to use these traditional Japanese cooking tools to help recreate a treasured memory.
There are many unique and traditional cooking tools in Japan. From simple household use to exclusively crafted tools for top chefs, there are many options and famous brands to choose from. If you wish to create restaurant quality food, these tools are advantageous! Furthermore, what is complimentary is that these tools can be good souvenirs. Made of steel, clay or bamboo, some of these tools, while possibly rugged in appearance, may decorate your shelves. Common examples of traditional cooking tools described below can give you an insight.
The top chefs all around the world respect Japanese kitchen knives as they represent one of the highest quality products in the world. Japanese are famous for superior steelwork, producing high purity steel with a unique technique of layering hard and soft steels. Japan has a long history of making exceptional steel swords and this has most certainly helped to establish a position of Japanese kitchen knives to be among the world's finest in quality.
A typical Japanese kitchen knife has a single bevel edge not like Western styles that have a double bevel edge. The single bevel edge is normally on the right side so a left-handed person should specifically purchase a left-handed knife. There are many types of knives like "De-ba" for cutting fish and hard ingredients, "Usu-ba" to cut vegetables. "Yanagi-ba" with a long and thin blade is for cutting raw fish for Sushi. To prevent the fish from becoming squashed, chefs cut raw fish with one long drawing stroke rather than pressing.
Most interesting is not just the quality of the knife itself but the techniques used by the master chefs utilizing the tools of their trade. A vast number of knife techniques apply for Japanese cooking. Hidden cuts are made in food to make them easier to cook or eat. Decorative cuttings such as turning carrots into flowers add a visual element of seasonality to the presentation of the dish.
Donabe means clay pot in Japanese and is mostly used to cook hot pot meals like Shabu-shabu. Rice cooked in a Donabe is very delicious and are used at many discerning Japanese restaurants. There are different types of clay used for Japanese Donabe and respectively produced in several locations in Japan. One of most popular Donabe is Iga-yaki, produced in the area of Iga from the Mie prefecture with over 1,000 years of history. Iga-yaki style applies clay from sedimentary layers originally located on the bed of Lake Biwa. The clay contains rich minerals from about 4 million years ago, and this makes Iga's Donabe tremendously resistant to heat.
The pottery's material property is super porous with low thermal conductivity and indeed contributes great benefits when cooking with a Donabe by building up heat slowly with a high heat retention once it gets to a peak. This slow cooking process results in a great and scrumptious meal with a rich and abundant flavor.
Donabe is without a doubt a common item for most Japanese households and are available in various sizes.
An Oni-oroshi is used to make grated white radish called "Daikon Oroshi". Grated white radish is consumed in many ways in Japanese cuisine and is a must for certain dishes. It has a refreshing and spicy taste complimented by a mild sweetness. Served with Tempura, grilled fish, noodles, hot pot and many other meals it positively adds that extra appetizing taste. Oni-oroshi means "Devil-grater" because of the sharp blade lines that look like devil's teeth. There are of course other types of graters but bamboo is preferred if you desire a coarse finish. The bamboo material has low heat conductivity so the heat does not intensify while in use. Because of its coarse finish, the juiciness and fiber of the radish remains after grating. With Oni-oroshi, the spicy taste of the radish is less intense than the radish grated with normal metal or plastic graters. It is also popular to use Oni-oroshi to grate other foods like apples and Japanese yams.
Because of today's Washoku (Japanese cuisine) boom, there is a high demand for Japanese cooking lessons in English. Most of the major cities in Japan offer a variety of cooking lessons.
Explore and try the lessons highlighted below to obtain a fulfilling introduction to Japanese cooking.
All of the above classes are easily booked on-line. Learning about useful food ingredients like Japanese seasonings and how to make fish stocks are skills that will serve you beyond making sushi and will inspire your future cooking.
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