Make Quality Sushi at home
An essential tool in preparing suitable rice for sushi is a hangiri. This is a wooden tub or bowl, traditionally made of cypress and used to prepare the sushi rice. After cooking, the rice is seasoned with sushi vinegar and spread out in the hangiri to cool.
The bowl is bound by two copper bands. The unique shape facilitates the rice cooling quickly. Since they are expensive, the professional type used by sushi chefs could cost a few hundred dollars, some people simply use a plastic bowl, but this will not quite produce the same effect since cypress absorbs the moisture of the rice. For the same reason, glass and metal would not do either.
There are cheaper versions, using pine instead of cypress, which retail at between $30 and $50, but experts warn that the pine will not withstand the moisture of the rice and could eventually warp. The resin content of cypress protects the hangiri against cracks, rot and warping and experts insist that this also contributes towards the flavor of the rice. Expect to pay around $90 for a cypress hangiri of 11.8 inches (30cm).
There are various sizes. The smallest size has a diameter of 11.8 inches (30cm) and will hold 3 cups of cooked rice. A hangiri with a 12.9-inch (33cm) diameter can cool 5 cups of cooked rice. A slightly bigger one of 15.3 inches (39cm) will hold approximately 10 cups of cooked rice. A hangiri used by a sushi chef in a restaurant could be a tub as large as 3.2 ft (1m) across.
Used with the hangiri, is a wooden paddle called a shamoji. This helps to prepare and dress the rice, after which it is covered with a cloth called a fukin to cool it. Traditionally a shamoji, which is made of wood, bamboo or lacquer, is frequently dipped in water to prevent the rice from sticking to it. According to legend, a monk devised this utensil. It can also be used to crush vegetables such as garlic or cucumber. Modern sushi making kits often include a shamoji made of plastic. Metal is never used, as this might split the grains of the rice. In traditional Japanese culture, the shamoji is seen to symbolize unity between the mother and the wife. It is passed from one generation to the next.
After use, clean it at once with soapy water and hang it upside down to dry, as this prevents mould. Having mastered the art of how to make sushi at home, you would want your work utensils to last a lifetime.