Glossary - Kitchen Tools

Uchiwa / Hand-held fan

GlossaryUchiwa

A hand-held fan for creating a breeze to cool food or adjust the intensity and direction of heat and smoke.

What is uchiwa?

Uchiwa / hand-held fan (ใ†ใกใ‚ in Japanese) is a fan made by attaching paper or other materials to a bamboo or plastic frame and is used to create a breeze by fanning. In cooking, it is used to quickly cool freshly cooked rice when making sushi rice, as well as to control the intensity and direction of heat and smoke when grilling over charcoal. It is commonly used in the preparation of dishes such as sushi, yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), and unagi no kabayaki (grilled eel).

GlossaryUchiwa_si1
Cooling cooked rice to make sushi rice

How to use

When using an uchiwa for cooking, direct the breeze towards the area you want to cool or influence. For sushi rice, fan the surface of the rice mixed with sushi vinegar. For grilling eel or yakitori, fan the charcoal to adjust the heat and smoke.

Substitute for uchiwa : when you don’t have it 

If you don't have an uchiwa or your arm gets tired when cooling sushi rice, you can use a fan or the cool setting on a hair dryer as a substitute. Ensure the breeze hits the surface of the sushi rice and avoid over-cooling it. Thin plastic sheets or cardboard can also be used as substitutes.

Trivia

In addition to cooking, uchiwa are cherished in Japan for various uses such as cooling oneself, repelling mosquitoes, as tools in festivals, and as accessories to yukata (summer kimono), making them a symbol of summer.

Caution

Since uchiwa are often made of paper, they are flammable. Be careful not to bring them too close to the fire when grilling over charcoal.

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Cooking Basics

Sushi rice - how to prepare

Ingredients

Rice
360 g (12.7 oz.)
Water
340 ml (11.5 fl. oz.)
Kombu/kelp (as desired)
5 cm (2 in.)
Vinegar Mixture
(4 Tbsp of rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp of sugar, 1 tsp of salt)

Directions


1

Rinse the rice.


2

Place the rice into a colander and let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour.


3

Transfer the rice into the inner pot of a rice cooker, add the indicated amount of water and kombu and cook as usual.


4

Prepare the vinegar mixture. Place the cooked rice into a bowl, pour the vinegar mixture over the rice and let sit for 1 minute.


5

Mix with a rice paddle while fanning with an uchiwa fan (paddle-shaped fan). Mix the rice in a manner as though breaking it apart to prevent it from becoming sticky and mushy. Once the rice has a glossy shine and is cooled, it is ready.

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