Starting to build your kitchen for Japanese cooking? Here is my recommendation for kitchen essentials.
Are you living in a small apartment with limited kitchen space or about to start cooking for the first time? I’m here to provide some tips on how to build a kitchen equipped to cook Japanese food at your own home.
I will cover the essentials in each area of the kitchen. Items in italics are not an absolute “necessity”, but I wanted to include them because I use them often and I think they are worth being included. Whether you prefer a minimalist kitchen or a complete kitchen, this framework will be a great guide for you.
How to Build a Kitchen for Cooking Japanese Food
- A salad spinner (No more diluted dressing!)
- A large pot (or Dutch oven)
- A medium pot (or Dutch oven)
- A small pot (or Yukihira Nabe)
- A large frying pan or a cast-iron skillet
- A drop lid (otoshibuta) – An essential tool for simmered dishes. Read more here.
- A fine mesh skimmer
- A stainless steel ladle
- A silicone turner spatula
- A wood spatula
- A set of long chopsticks (all-purpose kitchen utensils!)
- A wood cutting board
- Plastic cutting board(s) (for meat/seafood)
- A good quality santoku knife
- A vegetable peeler
- A ceramic grater
- A set of glass mixing bowls (at least 3 different sizes)
- A set of mortar and pestle
- A silicone spatula
- A large whisk
- A can opener
- A flat whisk or small whisk
- A cookie scoop (I also use it for savory dishes)
- A garlic press
- A silicone brush
- A pepper grinder
JAPANESE RECIPE SPECIFIC (EXTRA)
– The kitchen tools below will be useful if you have additional space and will be making specific recipes regularly.
- A donabe (earthenware pot)
- A portable butane stove with butane fuel canister
- A tamagoyaki pan (I used to use the T-fal brand (picture above), but not available on Amazon. I currently use and love this copper Tamagoyaki pan)
- A sushi oke set
TABLEWARE (FOR ONE)
- A rice bowl
- A miso soup bowl
- A medium plate
- A small plate
- A small bowl
- A mini plate
- A set of chopsticks and a chopstick rest
Curious about Japanese tableware? In The Ultimate Guide to Japanese Tableware post, you’ll learn about the important components (what bowls and plates to use, their sizes & functions), and table arrangement on how to set up a Japanese meal.
- Large, medium, and small plates
- Large, medium, and small bowls
Additional Tips (For the Minimalist Kitchen)
1. Build your kitchen based on your lifestyle and cooking habits.
When you have a small space to work with, the most important to do is to have an understanding of your preferred living and cooking habits. Ask yourself questions like:
- What kind of recipes will I be making often?
- Do I need this tool? Will I be using it very often?
- Is this going to be just one-time use? etc.
By asking these questions, it will help you to decide what to get and what not to get.
2. Declutter and access your organizing system.
You may have already heard about the famous Mari Kondo method. It is true that there’s magic in tidying up. Although I have a huge collection of cookware for the work that I do, I believe in the power of decluttering and organizing for efficiency.
If you have some clutters in the kitchen, spend some time getting rid of anything that is way too old or no longer in use. This will free up some space for other more important equipment or breathing room. Once you get rid of certain things, start organizing by categories.
2. Think smart storage.
Creativity comes in when you have to maximize the square footage you have. Have a good inspection around your kitchen and look for any potential storage spaces. Is there any space above your fridge? Can you go vertical by hanging things on the wall? You’ll be surprised how much you can utilize the workable room in your tiny kitchen.
I hope the above guide makes your cooking a little easier.
Now it’s your turn! Do you have any kitchen items you can’t live without? Do you have any tips you’d like to share with anyone who lives in a small space? Tell us about it in the comment below.
If you want to check out easy recipes, read 5 Easy Japanese Recipes to Cook At Home.