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Handai is a wooden utensil essential when serving sushi rice. Sushi rice is made by putting cooked rice into the handai, pouring vinegar on it (amount should be 10% relevant to sushi rice’s volume), waiting for few seconds for the vinegar to permeate through rice and then mixing it using the rice scoop. When mixing the rice, users should be careful to not crush the rice, and to use the sides of the rice scoops and to slice the rice with small movements. After mixing the rice, users should cool it using a fan and after removing heat at the surface, bring the bottom rice up to the surface and again cool it until its temperature decreases to our body temperature. At last, place a wet bleached cotton cloth on top of it and keep it at room temperature.

When first using the handai, users should go through the following process: pour water and 2 to 3 spoons of vinegar into the handai, keep it for 2 to 3 hours, and then wash and wipe it clean. From the second time, it is recommended that users wipe the handai with a wet cloth before usage. This would prevent rice to stick on the surface of handai. After using the handai, users should wash it with water and sponge, without using any detergent. It is recommended that users store the handai in a dry space, after wrapping it with newspaper or other wrapping material.

While it is a traditional good that has long been cherished by Japanese people, the vessel now serves various dishes other than sushi rice. Modern Japanese people would use it as a vessel to serve bread, as the vessel moderately absorbs moisture and prevent it from overdrying. It may also be used as a utensil to contain ingredients that are later used for Japanese hot pot dishes or as a large-sized bento box.

Yamaichi’s Takumi Handai and Wooden Lid are clean and simple, with no hoops. Two metal wires made of stainless steel are transfixed inside the lateral plate to maintain handai strong without any looseness. Azmaya’s Handai which is also made by Yamaichi is also popular. They are made solely of precious straight-grained wood of Kiso sawara cypress of more than 100 years old. You may also want to purchase Okubo House Mokkosha’s Chestnut Rice Scoop, which has a beautiful tone and to which rice hardly sticks.

Yamaichi’s Takumi Handai
https://www.shokunin.com/en/yamaichi/handai.html
Azmaya's Handai
https://www.shokunin.com/en/azmaya/handai.html
Okubo House Mokkosha's Chestnut Rice Scoop
https://www.shokunin.com/en/okubo/shamoji.html