Glossary - Kitchen Tools

Sarashi / Bleached cotton cloth


A traditional Japanese cotton cloth useful for both cooking and cleanup

What is sarashi?

Sarashi / bleached cotton cloth (さらし in Japanese) is a plain woven white cotton fabric. The term "sarashi" refers to the process of exposing the fabric to sunlight and weather to whiten it. The fabric that has undergone this process is called sarashi. It is used in various cooking tasks, such as filtering dashi, covering sushi rice to prevent drying, and lining steamers. Additionally, it is handy for post-cooking cleanup, such as wiping dishes, kitchen tools, and tables.

Sarashi covering sushi rice in handai wooden tub

How to use

Cut the sarashi to a convenient size for use, and after using it, wash and sun-dry it to whiten it again. Initially, the edges will fray, but after several cycles of washing and drying, the fraying will stop and the threads will no longer come loose. 

Substitute for sarashi : when you don’t have it 

Sarashi can be substituted with paper towels or gauze. Non-woven paper towels or reusable paper towels can provide a similar experience to using sarashi. Conversely, sarashi can also be used as an eco-friendly substitute for paper towels.


Durable and highly absorbent sarashi has been used in various aspects of Japanese life beyond cooking. Its applications include diapers, kimono padding, wrapping a pregnant woman's belly, and cleaning. Wrapping a pregnant woman's belly with sarashi blessed at a shrine is believed to ensure a safe delivery while keeping the belly warm and protected from shock and strain.


Sarashi fabric is initially stiff, so lightly rinse it with water and let it dry before use to soften it. 


Washoku Lesson

Washoku Lesson is special content offering detailed and easy-to-understand explanations, including tips for making classic Japanese dishes as well as the many ways of enjoying these, and introductions to special Japanese cooking utensils and annual events .

Cooking Basics

Dashi - how to make from kombu and dried bonito flakes

Ingredients (for 800 ml / 27 fl. oz. of dashi)

10 g (3 × 25 cm / 1.2 x 10 in.)
Katsuobushi/bonito flakes
20 g (0.7 oz.)
1000 ml (33.8 fl. oz.)


Soak the kombu in water for 30 minutes, then heat over medium heat. Just before the water comes to a boil, remove the kombu and turn off the heat. After a few minutes, add in the bonito flakes and allow to sit for 2 minutes.  Place a dampened paper towel over an all-purpose strainer and strain the dashi.

Dashi - how to make from sardines

Ingredients (for 800 ml / 27 fl. oz. of dashi)

Dried sardines
30 - 40 g (1 - 1.4 oz.)
100 ml (33.8 fl. oz.)


Remove heads from the dried sardines and split the bodies into two halves to remove the innards. Place the dried sardines into water and allow to soak overnight, or for at least 30 minutes if you need to save time, then heat over medium heat. When scum begins to form on the surface, simmer for about 5 minutes while skimming off the scum. Place a dampened paper towel over an all-purpose strainer and strain the dashi.

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