Sonoko Sakai Japanese Curry Powder
A deep marigold yellow, this mild, Sonoko Sakai’s Japanese-style curry powder lingers on the palate with notes of warm spices such as cardamom, black pepper and cayenne. Each small batch is made by hand—blending 16 different sustainably-sourced spices (and no artificial additives) to achieve the perfect harmony of tastes. If you stop and savor its deeply-layered aroma, you can nearly identify every ingredient due to the freshness of each spice and seasoning. The sweetness of clove and cinnamon are given a grounded base by the mustard, black pepper and cumin, with earthy and herbal notes shining through with tumeric and coriander. What truly sets this curry powder apart from others, though, is the hint of rich umami brought by infusing the powder with kombu and mushrooms.
Acclaimed cook and food writer Sonoko Sakai developed and fine-tuned this balanced blend over the course of many months, keeping in mind versatility and concentrated flavor. This curry powder is perfect for making traditional curry bricks—the Japanese curry equivalent to bouillon cubes—or adding an aromatic kick to any recipe. Incorporate into a rub for meat, bloom with other aromatics when sauteeing, or perhaps stir into a soup such as our Black Eyed Pea and Tomato Stew. Combine with butter or ketchup to craft a condiment with a kick, or add to entrees like Ed Lee’s Coconut Curry Braised Fish or our Japanese-Style Beef Curry—substituting the curry powder in place of the garam masala.
Uneno Rishiri Konbu
It may not look like much, but umami-rich konbu seaweed is a fundamental flavoring agent in Japanese cooking. It adds depth to elemental broths, like dashi (konbu and bonito flakes), which is essential to all manner of Japanese sauces, soups and stews.
Ocean’s Balance Organic Whole-Leaf Kombu
Kombu is the Japanese term for dried edible kelp that's commonly used as an ingredient across East Asia. In Japanese cuisine, it's essential to make dashi, the soup stock that provides a savory, salty yet clean flavor foundation for miso soup and other dishes. Packaged in a resealable, recyclable pouch, these whole dried sheets are harvested from pristine Maine waters and have an especially crisp brininess and delicate, sweet clarity from the kelp's natural sugars; simply cut up a few sheets and steep to make a light, fragrant broth (for a more concentrated stock, try Kombu Flakes). Don't balk at the white powder coating the kombu sheets—it's a naturally occurring layer of nutrient-dense salts. It's common to gently wipe some of the salt off, but leaving a little residue will boost the flavor of your soup stock since the powder contains glutamic acid, the compound responsible for umami.
Ocean’s Balance Organic Kombu Flakes
Kombu is the Japanese term for dried edible kelp that's commonly used as an ingredient across East Asia. In Japanese cuisine, it's essential to make dashi, the soup stock that provides a savory, salty yet clean flavor foundation for miso soup and other dishes. Ocean's Balance harvests its product from pristine Maine waters, which produce nutrient-dense, clean-tasting kombu. These pre-cut flakes come in a stay-fresh metal tin, and because they have more surface area than Whole-Leaf Kombu, they simmer more quickly and yield a darker, robust and briny broth that's savory and vegetal, versus the murky flavor of lower-quality kombu. And don't balk if you see white powder the kombu—it's a naturally occurring layer of nutrient-dense salts and glutamic acid, the compound responsible for umami.
Inomata Japanese Plastic Rice Washing Bowl
It is a standing joke around the office that I LOVE this rice washer. It is just the right size, so storing it is not a pain (it’s small enough to keep it on my drain board at all times), it’s lightweight, it’s well-designed, and—if you like—it also washes rice. Why do we all have huge colanders, anyway? This 2.5-quart colander is the perfect size for 95 percent of your kitchen draining jobs. With rice, the device allows one to cover the rice with water and swish it around; there are tiny drain holes in the bottom and larger holes near the spout. You can use this simple bowl for washing any sort of produce, including berries—a simple but brilliant concept. As for cooking rice, I use a ceramic Japanese rice cooker (the Kamado-San Double-Lid Donabe Rice Cooker—available in our store) and use slightly less water than rice.
Helen's Kitchen Stainless Steel Rice Washer
We love this stainless steel rice washer from Helen’s Asian Kitchen, a line of products by iconic Chinese-American chef Helen Chen. The rice washer doubles in function as a colander, and at 3 quarts it is just the right size for your everyday kitchen draining jobs. With rice, the device allows one to cover the rice with water and swish it around; there are tiny drain holes near the spout that hold the grains in as you’re washing your rice. You can use this simple bowl for rinsing any sort of produce, including berries—a simple but brilliant concept. We like that this bowl features a perforated lip instead of an open spout, which helps keep food inside the colander when draining. As for cooking rice, I use a ceramic Japanese rice cooker (the Kamado-San Double-Lid Donabe Rice Cooker—available in our store) and use slightly less water than rice.
Tojiro Japanese Stainless Steel Hammered Finish Nakiri - 165mm
Traditionally used to cut vegetables, the Nakiri has a straight blade that makes full contact with surfaces for smooth, fluid cutting motions. The knife's thin construction creates clean cuts and won't tear or damage delicate foods. We also love the authentic magnolia wood handles, made in the Japanese wa style with resin collars; the rounded handles come to a subtle point on their undersides, nestling in the hand for a more secure grip, even when the knife is wet.
If you prefer a blade that requires a little less care, the VG-10 Nakiri is right for you: VG-10 is a popular kitchen knife steel with a high chromium content, so it holds an edge well, is easy to sharpen and requires little maintenance. The VG-10 Nakiri also has a gorgeous, labor-intensive tsuchime, or hammered, finish. The textured blade isn't just for aesthetics: The divots allow air to flow during use, so foods fall clean off the blade rather than sticking.
- Net Weight: 165 grams
- Blade Length: 165 millimeters
- Total Length: 305 millimeters
- Blade Material:VG-10 + 13 chrome stainless steel
- Handle Material: Magnolia wood, resin collar
- Edging: Double bevel
- Care: Hand-wash only; dry immediately.
Christopher Kimball 6.5” Nakiri Knife
I designed this Japanese-style vegetable knife, or nakiri, with Henckels International. Its cutting edge measures 6.5 inches and is 2 inches high, half the height of a Chinese cleaver; the deeper blade makes it easier to rest the flat side of the blade against the knuckles while slicing, for comfort and safety. The high-carbon stainless steel blade is well balanced; its edges are expertly honed and require little maintenance other than the occasional sharpening; and the smooth polymer handle is triple-riveted. This knife will make cooking fun again, since the food prep will be quicker, safer and easier. I could not recommend a knife more highly, especially at this amazing price. The knife is constructed out of German stainless steel with a forged one-piece design and triple-rivets in the handle. — Christopher Kimball
Wadaman Organic Golden Sesame Oil
This organic sesame oil, pressed by one of Japan’s top sesame growers, is without equal—earthy, clear, bold and strong. We consider sesame oil a pantry staple and use it in innumerous dishes like our Hot Oil Chard, easy and rib-sticking Sesame Stir-fried Pork with Shiitakes or sesame sauce for noodles.