A great tool for mixing the rice and rice vinegar is a Hangiri (also called “Handai Bowl” or “Sushi Oke”). But what exactly is a Hangiri? A Hangiri is a round, flat-bottomed wooden tub or barrel used in the final steps of preparing rice for sushi, where you mix the “Sushi Su” (mixture of rice vinegar with sugar and salt) with the rice.
An indispensable tool in every sushi chef’s kitchen!
In every sushi restaurant you see them in the kitchen; those big wooden bowls full of sushi rice. Sushi chefs use this Hangiri for a deliberate reason. The sushi rice comes out much better. Yes! Anything for flavor.
Why do sushi chefs use a Hangiri?
The wooden Hangiri absorbs excess water and vinegar, and this absorbed water in the Hangiri helps keep the rice moist and prevents the rice from drying out, creating the perfect sushi rice with just the right level of hydration.
Before spooning in the rice, moisten the Hangiri a bit. Then spoon the cooked rice into the Hangiri with a nonstick or wooden spatula. Do not use a metal spatula. Metal and vinegar create a certain reaction that adversely affects the taste of your rice. Therefore, always use a wooden spatula or one made of nonstick plastic. There, mix the rice with your “Sushi Su” (mixture of rice vinegar with sugar and salt) to flavor the rice.
Do remember to place a damp tea towel over your sushi rice when it is ready. This is to prevent your sushi rice from drying out.
By the way, if you don’t have a Hangiri, a good plastic bowl works just fine.
How do you clean a Hangiri?
A good chef understands the importance of being frugal with your resources. The same goes for your Hangiri. Occasionally some rice will stick to the bowl, but if you soaked the Hangiri before use, this should be minimal. Clean the Hangiri immediately after use, otherwise any remaining rice grains will stick. These become hard and are then difficult to remove. Moreover, it also corrodes the wood, which is a shame.
Fill the bowl with warm water and set aside if rice is stuck to it. Remove the remaining rice from the water afterwards with a cloth or soft brush. Do not use soap or detergent under any circumstances. This is is not good for the Hangiri.
What is a Hangiri made of?
The traditional Hangiri that comes from Japan is made of cypress wood and has two copper rings round the bowl. These two rings provide additional strength to the Hangiri. Professional chefs prefer to work with an authentic Hangiri, as it gives the best results for the rice. By the way, sometimes bamboo is used to make a Hangiri.
Nowadays, several cheap Hangiri also come from China. You immediately notice the difference, as these are of lesser quality. A common type of wood is used and the rings are not copper, but copper-colored plastic. Nevertheless, these Hangiri are fine for the home chef who makes the occasional sushi. It looks especially decorative in your kitchen anyway when you make sushi for your friends and/or family, and you can now explain exactly what a Hangiri is! Want to bet they’ll be impressed? 🙂