Rolling mat

Rolling mat

The sushi rolling mat (or Makisu)

A makisu or bamboo mat is a mat woven from bamboo and cotton string which is used in food preparation. Makisus are mostly used to make makizushi a kind of rolled sushi, but are also used to shape other soft foods, and to squeeze excess liquid out of food.

The bamboo mat is usually 25 cm x 25 cm, but can equally vary. It comes in two variations and in various sizes, one with flat thick bamboo strips and the other with cylindrical thin bamboo strips. The flat thick bamboo mat is considered more versatile and is used for thicker sushi rolls while the cylindrical flat thin mat is designed specifically for makizushi.

While using the bamboo sushi mat, some people cover them with plastic film to reduce the cleaning effort. This is especially done while producing uramaki, a kind of maki sushi with the rice on the outside of the roll. It is advisable that a bamboo mat be air-dried after, so as to avoid the growth of bacteria and fungi. Alternatively, sushi mats can also be disposed after usage.

These days sushi has become a recognised part of menus in many homes and restaurants across the world, therefore owing a sushi mat has become a necessity for those concerned. Sushi mats are inexpensive and can be afforded by anyone who needs them.making it, as well as touching and shaping once rolled.

When used to make an inside out roll, the mat needs to be wrapped with saran tape in order to keep the rice from sticking to the mat. This may also be applied while making a maki roll to make the mat easier to clean during the process. The mat itself should be kept dry, and never put into a dish washer. That is unless you are using a silicon sushi mat. If you are rolling together, you might want to have more than one mat in the house.

How to pick a sushi rolling mat ?

There are two kinds of bamboo rolling mats on the market. First you have the cheap kind, where both sides of the mat are rounded. That’s bad. The second kind, might cost you a buck more, and features the “top of the line” of western technology: one side is rounded and the other is flat. You will soon find out that a rolling mat with one side flat is a lot easier to use, and brings you much more impressive results.

So is it just bamboo then?

Nope. Some folks prefer using a silicon mat for sushi. One of the advantages of silicon is that it’s easier to wash. If you have made sushi before you might have gotten grains of sushi rice in your bamboo mat and know how difficult that is to clean by hand. Silicon mats don’t have that classic feel to them, but they sure are easier to clean – just put it in your dish washer. If you are interested in one, do check out this offer.

Can I make sushi without a mat?

Yes, you can!

Although a bamboo mats make sushi making easier at least in the first few times – you can make your own maki and inside out sushi rolls with it. You can simply use your hands for the job. Some creative folks have found other substitutes. Check out the video below by Nicki Sizemore showing you how to roll your sushi with parchment paper instead of a bamboo mat.

Good job Nicki!

Where can I get a rolling mat?

You can find a good value sushi rolling mat online (here), or at your local food store.


Wooden rice bowl (or Hangiri)

A hangiri (also known as a sushi oke) is a wonderful cooking device: it’s a Japanese wooden tub that’s used in the final steps of preparing sushi rice.
While that might be a fairly humble description (a tub that’s used to make rice), the hangiri is actually very well designed for the job that it does. It’s typically very wide and flat, which means that you can cool the hot rice very quickly after pouring in seasoning – the mixing process with a traditional rice paddle also helps with this cooling phase.
The final bonus feature of using a hangiri is the fact that the mixing process (within a hangiri) helps to give the rice a shiny appearance, while also speeding up the final phase of evaporation and absorption. The speeding up of those two things means that the final phase of cooking the rice is quicker, so the rice itself doesn’t get mushy, as overcooked rice would.

A good quality hangiri is made from cypress or cedar wood and is bound similarly to a barrel – with two copper bands. These material choices can make hangiri quite expensive indeed: at least $75.
If you’re buying one that’s cheaper than that, then it is typically knock-off, made outside of Japan. For example, it may be made from pine and plastic instead. This change in materials would mean that the hangiri itself will need to be replaced fairly quickly – within a year or two.
By contrast, a well-made hangiri can last a lifetime if it is well maintained.

The history of hangiri

Well, this is actually a bit of a tale that’s hard to nail down.
The earliest records of sushi out there in the world are in rice paddies in ancient southern China. These sushi dishes were made through the fermentation of fish, with the carbohydrates within the rice being used as ‘fuel’ for the bacteria to do their work. This method of preparation meant that the rice wasn’t eaten, and so didn’t need to be cooked.
However, from the eleventh century and onward, rice stopped being prepared in this way, and generally started to be steamed or boiled instead – this meant that it was eaten along with the fish.
It’s hard to say when the combination of cold fish and hot rice may have occurred, but it’s unlikely to have been a happy one. With the advent of refrigeration, people were able to keep fish colder for longer. This would have exacerbated the problem, leading to a solution needing to be found.
Necessity is, of course, the mother of invention, and over time various different methods resulted in the hangiri – the ideal tool for finishing the cooking process of rice and making sure that it is dry and cool. From there, making sushi that we would consider to be modern became much simpler!

The practical use of this tool today?

Since the world is becoming more and more automated, leading to a wealth of machines being able to do a wealth of jobs, you might wonder why sushi chefs still use hangiri. Well, it’s quite simple: it’s just the best tool for the job.
First of all, the wood itself is uncoated, meaning that it’s ideal for absorbing the final dregs of water from the rice. This, in turn, stops the rice from drying out, too – a perfect balance!
Also, the uncoated wood has a gentle scent, similar to pine or other light wood. This smell goes very well with the rice as the cooking process is ongoing, and doesn’t interfere with the aroma of the sushi rice itself, thankfully.
Finally, the antibacterial nature of the cypress wood and the copper bands mean that you can have peace of mind with regards to hygiene, whereas a machine would need much more cleaning and maintenance.