Hangiri bowls, also known as handai bowls are a traditional tool used in Japan to mix sushi rice and seasoning. They are becoming more popular in the West to achieve a more authentic tasting sushi. They are usually made from uncoated cypress wood, which is a softwood. Two copper bands are attached around the outside of the bowl which are usually loose from new. This is because the bowl will swell and as such they require special care before the first use, after use and before every consecutive use. The care will properly season the bowl and also ensures that the bowl will not crack! Let's have a look at how to care for your hangiri:
Before your first use:
The first step is to properly season your hangiri and remove the bitterness of the wood. To do this, fill the hangiri with water and add 1/4 cup of rice vinegar and let it sit over night. The next day, pour out the solution and wash with clean water (no soaps or harsh detergents) and dry hastily with a clean soft towel. Do not allow the bowl to sit in direct sunlight or in a warm environment as this will risk cracking the bowl.
Before every use:
While you are cooking your sushi rice, fill the hangiri with water for around 30 minutes before your rice is ready and let it sit. Before you add any hot rice to the bowl, make sure that all of the water is drained and dab with a clean cloth. If the hangiri is too wet, it will soak into the rice and make it too moist. If you add the rice to a hangiri that is not properly soaked, the rice will stick to it and the bowl would soak up much of the rice seasoning resulting in a bland sushi rice.
After every use:
Often, some rice will be stuck to the bowl, but as you soaked it before use, there should not be so much. If there is any rice stuck to the bowl, fill the bowl with warm water and let it sit. Use a cloth or a soft brush to remove any rice that did not free from the water.
At any point in the hangiri's life, do not use any chemicals or even any dish soap to wash it. It is also very important that the bowl is dried correctly after use. Dry thoroughly with a towel and make sure that the bowl has adequate air flow to it so that the wood drys out. However, do not dry the bowl in the sun as this may warp or even crack the wood. It is a good idea to store the bowl in a sealed plastic bag after drying as over drying could also cause cracks.
Do not leave the bowl too wet as it could cause mould growths. If the bowl starts to discolour, use diluted lemon juice to brighten the colour.