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A Handai aka Hangiri Bowl aka Sushi Oke is a large wooden bowl used to cool rice for Sushi. While this is usually only seen in Japanese restaurant. Incorporating it at home is great if you need to prepare food quickly. The cypress wood construction adds a subtle but pleasant aroma to your sushi. The only problem is that most people do not know how to use it effectively. From washing it to storage, there are certain steps that you must do.
Why Use a Hangiri Bowl?
Some of you might wonder, is a hangiri really necessary? For most people, no. But if you are looking at this article, your situation might be different. A hangiri is mainly used to cool and mix sushi rice. The wide surface area gives rice a lot more breathing room. Steam will escape a lot more rapidly than in a small bowl. Plus, its a lot easier to mix the vinegar evenly.
Another benefit to a Hangiri is balance. Since wood will absorb moisture just as rice will give off steam. It will reach a more balance equilibrium. While most people wont be able to tell a difference. To trained Sushi chef, it is the difference between perfection and mediocrity.
How to Use a Hangiri Bowl
To use a Hangiri Bolw gather the rice into a corner of the bowl. Then lightly and evenly pour the vinegar over the rice. Once its coated, use a fanning motion with your Rice Paddle aka Shamoji and separate the rice. What you want is individual pieces of rice. Tried to get out any clumps that you see. Once all the rice has been evenly coated, cover the bowl with a Fukin cloth. Wait for the rice to reach room temperature. That is the optimal temperature for serving.
Cleaning and Upkeep
As with any wooden utensils, there are upkeep that must be done. One such thing is washing. A simple was with a sponge should be sufficient. While i personally avoid soap to avoid the flavor, they can be used when necessary.
After washing, it is important to let it dry where there is air. You want to prevent the growth of mold and expansion of the wood.
If mold should ever grow, use some lime juice and rub it in. If that fails, you can always use a soft grit sand paper to sand it. Although I would caution going overboard.
Overtime, the copper hoop or the wood might become loose. This is due to the moisture shrinking or expanding the Hangiri. If this happens, all you need to do is get a piece of wood and lightly tap it back in place.
If you only plan on using it once in a while. Consider hydrating it with either water. I would lubricate the exterior with mineral oil, every now and then.
Best Hangiri Bowl List
In the states, Sushi Oke are rarely used. As such, your options are a bit limited. Luckily, the one available are all well made and uses traditional Cypress Wood. These wood slow the growth of mold and is generally preferable.
Kotobuki Hangiri Sushi Rice Mixing Tub (Best Overall)
If you want a Made in Japan Hangiri, then Kotobuki is a great option. They use Japanese Cypress wood with copper hand to bind it together. You have the option of different sizes, I personally think the bigger model are better value. But you should check to see how much space you have.
Tachibana container hangiri 39cm with lid (Best Option with Lid)
If you need one with a lid, then Tachibana is a good option. This is made in Japan and uses Cypress wood to build. They offer the same great build quality as the other option. Check the size to be sure that it fits your need.
BambooMN 10.6″ Sushi Oke Tub Hangiri (Best Bamboo Alternative (Affordable))
If you are tight on your budget and just need something to prepare rice, then you might want to consider bamboo. Since bamboo is more readily available, they can be sold at a more affordable price. This option gives you all the tool you need to start making sushi. While it might not have the same aromatic and anti molding properties of cypress, it should get the job done.
If you want to improve your sushi skills, then a Hangiri is a good option. While it may seem minor, the extra benefit of cypress aroma and moisture balance can change the overall quality of rice. There are cheaper option out there and they do work, but bamboo does not compare to cypress. Choose the model that best suits your need and skill level. You can always upgrade later on.