Since the time I first learned how to cook (I had just turned 18) I have slowly but surely accumulated a mass of kitchen accessories, devices, appliances and tools. Before I even realised what was happening, I became overrun with kitchen equipment (although, I can’t complain!).
I thought I would share (in no particular order) five of the kitchen equipment items that I cannot live without! Let me know if there are others that would be on your list 🙂
1. Microplane grater
I only very recently purchased a microplane grater and let me tell you, I have no idea what took me so long! Although this is a relatively small and single-purpose piece of equipment, I find myself using it (almost) every time I cook.
What I find most useful about it is that it saves so much time cutting up things that could otherwise be minced using the microplane grater. For example, I use garlic as the base of just about any savoury meal (who doesn’t?) and the act alone of mincing one or two cloves of garlic with a knife can be painstakingly sticky and inefficient. Enter the microplane grater. There is no doubt that grating a clove of garlic achieves a far superior mince in half the time.
I have also had great joy using my microplane to grate fresh ginger for tea, as well as fresh or dried spices (i.e. nutmeg or cinnamon). The time my microplane has saved me makes it one of the five ingredients I can’t live without in my kitchen.
2. Bench mixer
I was fortunate enough to be given a bench mixer by my wonderful mother. What an amazing piece of technology! I doubt I need to remind my readers why a standing bench mixer is such a great thing to have in your kitchen, but I’ll point out a few ways it has helped in my cooking journey.
Firstly (and most importantly) it makes dough making so much easier. Using the dough hook of a bench mixer on a medium speed literally halves the amount of time needed to be spent on kneading dough. Is that not reason enough for it to make the list of equipment one should not live without?
Well, even if dough making isn’t reason enough, the usefulness of having a standing bench mixer for any kind of baking and dessert making is essential. Definitely a piece of equipment that we should count ourselves fortunate to have access to.
And whilst a KitchenAid© is absolutely the dream, I say that it is certainly not a necessity. There are other brands (and much cheaper brands) of standing bench mixers with all the same attachments that do just the same thing!
3. Rice cooker
People who can cook rice on a stove top without a rice cooker should not be trusted, because they also most likely know dark magic. Or, maybe it just says a lot about me that I actually cannot cook rice without a rice cooker.
Rice made any other way than in a rice cooker by me turns out all wrong (usually way too gluey). And yes – I have read all the tips, watched all the YouTube videos and it just wasn’t meant to be.
That is the major reason I cannot live without a rice cooker. Although it is a much simpler, cleaner and quicker way of cooking rice. It is (*almost) fool proof (well, I can use it anyway).
4. Plastic squeeze bottles
I guess most of you would be surprised to see such a thing as plastic squeeze bottles on my list of kitchen equipment I cannot live without – but just hear me out.
My plastic squeeze bottles essentially only serve two purposes in my kitchen, BUT those two purposes improved my kitchen experience beyond measure. Firstly, I use plastic squeeze bottles to keep cooking oil. That is, I fill up a plastic squeeze bottle with vegetable oil and use this whenever I need to lubricate a pan/wok/dish etc. The reason for this is that the squeeze bottle makes it so much easier to control the amount of oil you use. The benefits of this, then, are again two fold: (1) you save money not using excess oil and (2) you have full control over your oil intake (of particular concern for people with cholesterol and weight concerns).
The same logic applies, then, to oyster sauce. That’s right – no more bashing the bottom of an upside-down bottle of oyster sauce to get any (let alone the right amount) out. I like to keep my oyster sauce in a squeeze bottle so that I can always measure the right amount every. single. time. You’re welcome.
5. Carbon steel wok
If I had to pick my all time favourite kitchen tool, it would be my carbon steel wok hands down. Land slide. Every time. I purchased my carbon steel wok from a local Asian Grocer and learnt how to correctly season and care for it (thanks to Pailin from Hot Thai Kitchen!).
Essentially, seasoning a carbon steel wok involves heating the dry and clean wok until it smokes then, turning the heat off, rubbing a very small amount (let’s say one teaspoon) of vegetable oil all over the surface of the wok, including the outside. What this does is protect the carbon steel surface of the wok from rust damage and the heat also helps remove any food stuck to a well-used wok.
The major benefit, aside from the above, of seasoning a carbon steel wok, is that it creates an ultra-non-stick surface which you can use to cook almost anything. That’s right – I use my carbon steel wok for curries, soups, stir fries, deep frying, omelettes etc. And in addition to that, a well used and well seasoned wok can withstand incredible heat and therefore will create an amazingly smoky, charcoal wok fry flavour to your stir fries which is just not possible from any other utensil (at least that I have used).
So, my wok is my NUMBER ONE piece of equipment I just could not live without!