The Sutekki-Noriten

Not just a rolling pin

Banzai! Strict conventions apply to the use of the sutekki-noriten in the kitchen.

ESSENTIAL USER NOTES

To western eyes it may look a little like a rolling pin, but the sutekki-noriten is a far more versatile tool with a long-established history. More generally known in the west as the Japanese crisp-crusher, the sutekki-noriten is the modern variant of an ancient utensil of an eastern cooking tradition spanning back centuries. Tending nowadays only to be seen in use in noritegami, or in ancient sushi re-enchefment, in the sixteenth century the sutekki-noriten was second only to the katana as the favoured cooking utensil of the cordon bleu samurai.

Iki-biki-sutekki-noriten The iki-biki-sutekki-noriten is used only for the most delicate crisp-crushing operations

Traditionally made of bishi-bashi wood, modern equivalents are often poor substitutes, typically made of pine, cork or balsa, although the occasional old-wood mahogany copy dating from Victorian times will appear in antique sushi shops from time to time. Typically between one and three feet in length, the sutekki-noriten in fact comes in a range of sizes from the heavyweight bo-noriten (six to eight feet long, reinforced with steel spikes and weighing up to a ton: typically used for crushing large ingredients such as pumpkins or whole tuna) to the tiny iki-biki-sutekki-noriten (no larger than three inches: used for crushing small crisps, anchovies or individual rice grains). Sutekki-noriten of all sizes find their specific used in the art of noritegami.

Ceremonial sutekki-noriten made of solid gold, granite and even ancient proto-Pyrex have been found in archaeological sites, but these are thought to be extremely rare artifacts that would have only been used in preparing the most significant of samurai nibbles.

Although easily overlooked at first, the unique characteristics of the sutekki-noriten as a kitchen utensil are very apparent on close examination. Fashioned as a smooth cylinder of wood, with no distinct handle, the sutekki-noriten is a versatile precision crushing instrument that can be wielded as easily double-handed as singly. Its smooth surface ensures an even consistency of crisp-crushing along the length of the whole utensil. A rolling pin is simply a round stick used for flattening things.

Use this utensil to make noritegami arrangements, or flat sushi.

QUICK START GUIDE

DO:

  • use the sutekki-noriten to crush crisps
  • use the sutekki-noriten to crush other, crisp-like items
  • use larger sutekki-noriten to crush larger things
  • use very small sutekki-noriten for delicate crushing activities
  • use the sutekki-noriten when tastefully arranging crisps

DON'T:

  • confuse the sutekki-noriten with a rolling pin!
  • use the sutekki-noriten as a substitute for utensils where crushing is not required. It makes, for example, a very poor substitute for a fork

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