Whether you’re planning to whip up a savoury or sweet dish, Asian or Western cuisine, or even a simple 10 minute meal, here are some essentials that will ease your time in the kitchen.
Stocking your first kitchen can seem a little bewildering especially when you’ve not spent that much time in the kitchen before. So we’ve consulted the experts (our moms!) and have put together a guide to the fifteen kitchen essentials that all longtime cooks swear by:
1. 8-inch Chef’s Knife & Paring Knife
Forget the six knifes in a set – all you really need are these two knives, in the best quality you can afford, to take you from kitchen noob to chopping pro. The chef’s knife is an incredibly versatile tool and can be used to chop both vegetables and meat whereas the paring knife is needed for more precise cutting. Just remember to handle your knives before buying them—they should feel comfortable in your hand.
2. Cast Iron Skillet
This might seem a little costly but a good quality cast iron skillet is a timeless classic that is endlessly practical and will last forever. These things are so versatile, they can go from the stovetop to the oven to the grill to the refrigerator with no problems at all. You can use them for braises, stews, soups, deep-frying, searing, or even baking!
3. Immersion Blender
Portable and easy to clean, immersion blenders are much more convenient and space-efficient than conventional blenders. You will be able to puree soups and baby food right in the pot, whip up small batches of sauce or curry paste, even mash potatoes right on the stove top! To clean, just run the bladed end under the tap.
4. 2-in-1 Rice Cooker & Slow Cooker
Forget the standard rice cooker, a two-in-one rice cooker/slow cooker is the perfect gadget for busy Asian cooks. They can be used to make soups, stews and even dishes such as chicken curry and pulled pork! All you need to do is to chuck your ingredients into it before work, turn it on, and you’ll come home to a perfectly cooked, hearty meal. Slow cookers are also said to be healthier as you can use less oil and leaner cuts of meat (as the slow cooking time will break down the connective tissue till the meat is mouthwateringly soft).
5. Wok, Wok Spatula & Lid
Western cooks have their cast iron skillets, Asian cooks swear by their woks. A wok can be used for most Asian styles of cooking such as stir-frying, deep-frying, steaming, boiling and blanching. In fact, it’s almost impossible to cook certain Chinese dishes using a regular non-stick pan because only a wok can handle the higher temperatures that Asian cooking calls for.
Together with the wok, you will also need a wok ring (to hold the wok in place over a gas burner), a wok spatula (designed to work with the curved wok bottom) and a domed lid (to trap heat or steam, when needed). A ladle might also come in handy when dishing out dishes with sauce.
6. Bamboo Steamers
Bamboo steamers are traditionally used for steaming dim sum but they look great in the kitchen and you can steam just about anything that you can fit into them! All you need to do is boil some water in your wok and place the steamer over it (leaving a 2-inch gap between the water and the steamer). For easy clean-up, use steamer liners.
7. Measuring Cups & Spoons
Exact amounts are not that important when cooking – but they are critical when baking.
8. Heat-resistant Silicone Spatulas
You’ll be reaching for these constantly as they can be used for pretty much everything; from scraping batter bowls to frying curry paste to scrambling eggs. Plus, they won’t leave nasty scratches on your non-stick pots and pans!
9. Vegetable Peeler
A kitchen workhorse that most people forget about when listing their essential kitchen gadgets. Use it to peel root vegetables, shave cheese onto pasta or make veggie “noodles”.
10. Kitchen Scissors
Did you know you can use your kitchen scissors to spatchcock a chicken for easy grilling? You’ll want to look for an extra-sturdy pair with tapered tips and comfy handles.
11. Can Opener
Your best bet is a safe-cut, or smooth-edge, model that cuts around the outside of the can. This will produce smooth edges and won’t lower the lid into your food.
12. Cooking Chopsticks OR Tongs
Depends on what you’re comfortable with, cooking chopsticks (which are larger than normal chopsticks) or spring-loaded tongs give you much-needed dexterity when tossing noodles, deep-frying or flipping items. When choosing tongs, opt for a non-slip pair with silicone-covered, scallop-edged tips for a firm grip.
13. Kitchen Drawer Organiser
Now, where are you going to keep all of the above items? A kitchen drawer organiser will help you keep your cutlery and utensils neat and tidy — so that you’ll be able to grab the right item, at the right time — and better utilise the space you have.
14. Kitchen Storage Solutions
From pretty cabinets placed at the right level to dry food boxes, spice jars and wine racks, kitchen storage solutions are also essential when setting up a kitchen. They help keep things in order and make things easy to find.
Most importantly, an organised kitchen is a kitchen that’s easy to clean!
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