Wooden sushi rice bucket, called a hangiri or oke.
I've been writing a lot of posts lately on various sushi-related items, such as how to make temaki hand rolls and DIY spicy tuna. In this post I'll go over the essential sushi-making tools and ingredients. If you have a sushi lover on your holiday gift list, consider putting together a few of these items in a gift basket!
Sushi Oke/Hangiri - optional, but recommended.
Sushi oke, also called hangiri, are shallow flat-bottomed bowls made from a type of Japanese cypress called hinoki. Before using, the hangiri are soaked in water. After the rice is cooked, it is spread in the hangiri, and seasones with rice vinegar and then mixed with a bamboo rice paddle, and then covered with a towel to keep it moist. The wood absorbs excess moisture from the rice and gives it the appropriate texture for sushi, and the large surface area helps the rice to cool for handling. Hangiri can be purchased online, such as this one from Amazon.
Bamboo Rice Paddle
These are used from removing rice from the rice cooker and mixing the rice up in the hangiri. Since they are non-metal, they will not react with the rice vinegar and affect the taste of the rice, or damage the nonstick properties of the rice cooker. Easy to find online, such as this one at Amazon.
Bamboo Rolling Mat
This is essential! This is what is used to make makizushi rolls. This set of 6 at Amazon for $12 is a very good deal.
Roasted Seaweed Sheets (Nori)
These thin sheets of roasted nori seaweed are the traditional wrapping for making makimono rolls. These are very nutritious and are also good cut up in pieces and shredded over rice bowls and miso soup. Easily found at Asian groceries and even at Whole Foods, these can also be purchased cheaply online here. Once the package is opened, seal any leftover nori sheets in an airtight container or Ziploc bag to preserve the freshness.
The most important ingredient in sushi, otherwise it is not sushi! Only buy rice that is labeled "sushi rice" - it is short-grain and gets a sticky texture when cooked, which is what you need. You cannot form nigiri without rice that sticks together! Sushi rice can be found at Whole Foods or Asian markets, and online.
Essential for flavoring the sushi rice. Usually found in most large chain grocery stores and Whole Foods. Also available online.
Used as a condiment.
This nasal passage-clearing Japanese horseradish is used as an optional condiment. Get it online.
A palate cleanser, pickled ginger is eaten in small bites in between sushi bites. Sometimes found at mainstream grocery stores, it is also found at Asian groceries and Whole Foods, and online.
(Images: Amazon and Sushi Now)