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6 Must-Have Chinese Cooking Tools

OK, so you’ve decided to up your game in the cooking arena, or maybe you wanted to recreate dishes your Ahma makes– a taste of home. You’ve done your due diligence: stocked up on spices and seasonings, read up on recipes, and purchased the ingredients. All that’s left is for you to get cooking. But are you armed with the right equipment?

Luckily enough, Chinese cooking centers on multifunctional and efficient cooking tools. A few can do A LOT. Here are the 6 must-have cooking tools:

1) Cooking Chopsticks

source: amazon website

Of course, who can forget the quintessential Chinese utensil! But this is different from the eating kind, for one, it’s a lot longer — over 30cm. It acts like the extension of a hand and is easier to use than regular tongs (with a little practice) because Chinese food is usually delicate and bite-sized so you have more control. Not to mention, it can perform multiple tasks —  stir frying, beating eggs, stirring noodles and mixing ingredients.

You can even use it to fish out food in hot oil or water or food stuck in the bottom of a wok. The best part? Cooking chopsticks are made of wood or bamboo so they can withstand high heat, saving you from burns.

2) Wok

source: delishably website

Forget multiple pots and pans, in a Chinese kitchen, all you need is one wok. The rounded bottom is designed to concentrate heat at the center while the sides provide cooler areas for food. If you have the arm strength and get comfortable, you can even shake it around to toss your meat and veggies, it’s designed that way.

source: foodal website

There are multiple variants of the wok but don’t get the a non-stick kind, go for hammered steel! These develop a beautiful patina over time. And for those who use electric stoves, you can either buy a wok ring to match or opt for a flat bottomed wok.

You can use it for almost any type of cooking, whether it be deep-frying, stir-frying, roasting, steaming, stewing, braising, or boiling. It also uses less oil for frying, how great is that?

3) Wok spatula

source: amazon website

If you have a wok, a wok spatula is a good partner that goes along with it especially if you’re a beginner. It’ll help speed up things in the stir fry department. These long frying spoons are typically made of light stainless steel with bamboo or wood handles. Its sharp flat end is made for stir fried dishes, it delicately cuts through the sloped sides without damaging food.

Wok spatulas are perfect for tossing food around, scooping, and lifting items from hot oil. They can even be used for straining or skimming boiling dumplings. This tool will help you keep the food moving and distribute the heat evenly. Talk about speed and efficiency!

4) Chinese Cleaver

source: kitchenstuffplus website

Just like the wok, you also need only one knife. This rectangular blade is dual purpose: a knife and a scoop. Slicing veggies? Check. Chopping through meat and bones? Check. It might seem heavy and awkward to handle at first but once you get used to it, there’s no going back.

They’re not only used for chopping either, it’s excellent for cutting, dicing, slicing, and shredding. And since it has wide blade, you can use it to transfer ingredients from chopping board to wok.

Don’t underestimate this powerful yet delicate knife.

5) Steamer basket

source: amazon website

While Chinese cuisine is mostly stir fried, there are healthier cooking methods too such as steaming. And when you hear about steamed food in the Chinoy context, it’s most commonly associated with dimsum. Hot siomai, hakaw, or chicken feet served in those familiar bamboo steamer baskets, simply delicious.

But a steamer basket has more to offer. In fact, it can steam a wide range of food depending on the size. From steaming pancakes, fish, buns, meats, and veggies, it cooks your food without losing nutrients.

When shopping for one, there are aluminum and bamboo variants but it is recommended to buy the bamboo one. Bamboo lids let excess steam off instead of condensing and dropping water back onto the surface of dumplings and buns. Say no to sad and soggy food.

Use it with a wok or stack it up to cook multiple dishes in one go — efficient and economical.

6) Spider strainer

Source: marthastewart website

This is another trusty pal that pairs excellently with a wok. A spider strainer is useful for straining, skimming, and deep-frying. It’s designed to drain liquid and fish out pieces of food from hot oil or boiling water. The shallow shape means it can also skim stuff from the bottom of the pan.

So the next time you eat perfectly crisp spring rolls, chewy noodles, boiled wontons or dumplings, you have a spider strainer to thank.

These are the 6 must-haves in your Chinoy kitchen arsenal to take your ingredients from zero to hero. Now cook up a feast and feed that rumbling belly!

Missed something on the list? Let us know in the comments section.


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