Asian Kitchen Equipment Essentials

A reader recently posted a request on my Ten Steps to Better Wok Cookery essay, asking that I do a post on what I consider the most necessary pieces of Asian kitchen equipment are, what they are used for and where to find them.

Before I jump right into the list, I want to remind my readers that this is a pretty personal list. Keep in mind that I mostly cook Chinese, Indian and Thai food, so my list is going to be weighted in favor of those cuisines. I don’t do sushi at home, so that leaves out quite a bit of specialized equipment that I just don’t have.

Also, note that there are substitutions listed for many of the items. I personally, do not think that one can easily cook Asian foods without a wok or karahi, so I don’t suggest a substitute for that, but for other items, there are varied possible tools that can fill that niche. You don’t have to run out and buy every tool all at once and replicate my kitchen, but if you want to, I am giving brand names and sources for everything I suggest.

Finally–I am not including every obscure tool I have (that means, no, I am not going to tell you about my mooncake mold,interesting as it is), because I wanted to pare the list down to the basics. There are plenty of other fun things out there, and folks want to comment on them, please, feel free, but I am trying to do the short list of the utensils and tools that I think are necessary to easily cook very good Asian foods at home.

At the top of the list comes the Wok, which should come as absolutely no surprise. A good wok or karahi is simply one of the most versatile cooking utensils in the world; it is the best vessel for stir frying available–saute pans and skillets just really don’t cut it. It is also useful for braising, deep-frying, and steaming. For most American stoves, the new flat-bottomed woks are perfect, especially when you are talking about electric stoves. The hue and cry over how having a flat bottom “ruins” the wok’s best features that come from certain authors is bunk. Don’t believe them. Chinese-American families have cooked on American stoves with woks for years, and quite happily.

The material that you want your wok to be made from is either carbon steel or thin, Chinese cast iron. Heavy US or European cast iron woks are too heavy to work well. They take a great deal of time to heat up and then, do not cool down very quickly. For certain applications this is worthy, but not many. For ease of use and cleaning, go for the carbon steel or Chinese cast iron, which is enamelled on the outside to protect the very thin iron from shattering. Do not bother with nonstick woks, Calphalon anodized aluminum woks or stainless steel woks. They do not heat evenly, they do not keep a nonstick surface, and they are not easily cleaned.

The issue over which kind of handles to get–the double-handled Cantonese style, or the long, single-handled Northern “pao” style is up to the individual cook. I have one of each; my cast iron wok is Cantonese and my carbon steel wok has a single, long handle so I can toss the ingredients with one hand.

Where does one obtain woks like this? I suggest you mail order from The Wok Shop in San Francisco. You can call and place an order or use their website. The owner, Tane Chan is always available to answer questions and she is terribly helpful. Her prices are great and her shipping prices are fair.

To go with the wok, you need three tools. One, is the Bamboo Brush for cleaning it. This sounds kind of silly–but I very much advocate the use of the traditional bamboo scrubbing brush to properly clean a wok without destroying the seasoning as it builds up over time. There are other practical reasons to use it besides that. To properly clean a cast iron or carbon steel wok, you need to stick it in the sink and start scrubbing as soon as it is off the fire. That means the wok is blisteringly hot. Which would you rather have between you and that hot metal–a little, squishy, inch-thick scrubby-sponge that will likely melt, or a nice sturdy, eight-inch long bundle of bamboo? See what I mean?

You also need a Wok Shovel, which is shaped perfectly to scoop food around the sloping sides of the wok and toss it around. You can see it up in the main illustration for this post; it is the implement that looks like a shovel, strangely enough. Get as long a handle as you can work with, especially if you have a very hot stove–it keeps your hands out of the hot zone when you are working.

The other tool in that photograph above is the Wire Skimmer. This bamboo-handled piece is great for dunking and lifting items into and out of deep frying oil in the wok. It is also good for retrieving wontons and dumplings from boiling water, or portioning out noodles from a pot. All three of these tools are quite inexpensive from The Wok Shop.

Next in the list of necessary items is one or two very sharp Chinese Cleavers or Knives.

Asian cookery requires a lot of cutting; in fact, the proper cutting of ingredients is probably the most time-consuming part of prep for many Asian cuisines. A lot of Chinese chefs and cookbook authors emphasize the use of the cleaver, but in truth, you can do nearly every kind of cutting you would need to do with either a santoku-style knife or a Western style chef’s knife. One exception to this assertion is the technique of double-cleaver mincing, where the cook uses a matching pair of cleavers, one in each hand, to mince a chicken breast, piece of pork or beef, into fine pieces by rhythymically chopping in rapidly alternating beats.

But the point is, if you already have a really sharp knife that you can cut paper-thin slivers of meat, scallion or ginger with, then you can do without a cleaver. It just isn’t necessary.

That said, I like using cleavers, and used to use them all the time, until I started using Japanese style chef’s knives, known as santoku. They combine the best parts of a Western chef’s knife and a Chinese cleaver. They have the maneuverability of a chef’s knife, and the very, very sharp edge of a cleaver. I think that they are a great all purpose knife, and they have become the ones that I tend to use on an every day basis. Global makes a good santoku, but my very favorite knives of all time are Shun by Kershaw. I have two of them, the Shun Classic santoku and the Elite chef’s knife, and they are not only gorgeous to look at, but a dream to use; they are the sharpest knives I have ever owned and they make it simple to cut grassblade-fine slivers of ginger or paper-thin slices of meat.

In choosing a knife it is important to get a feel for it before you buy it. That is why I suggest that you go to Sur la Table or Williams Sonoma, or any good independant kitchenware, hardware or cutlery shop that carries a large selection of kitchen knives. You want to be able to feel what these knives are like in your hand. You want to pay attention to the balance of the knife, the weight of it and the feel of the handle in your palm. Knives come in all shapes and sizes, and you need to find the ones that feel right in your hand. On your first shopping trip, you don’t even have to buy the knives you pick out–if you can get better prices online, then thank the salespers and tell him that you are thinking about it and then order the knife you chose from someplace cheaper, especially if you are on a tight budget.

Whatever knife or cleaver you choose, make certain to get a very sharp one and take pains to keep it that way. Learn how to sharpen them so that you can maintain the edge properly and you will get decades of use out of your fine cutlery. Get a sharpening stone and a steel, and have someone show you how to use them, and at the first sign of dullness, sharpen your blades back up. A dull knife is a dangerous one.

Once you have a knife, you need a good Cutting Board. Use bamboo, wood, or soft, heavy plastic for your cutting boards, never glass, masonite or thin, hard plastic. This is to protect the edge of your now very sharp knives. Hard surfaces will dull a knife quite quickly, so to protect your knives, invest in a good, easy to clean, board with a knife-friendly surface. Chinese chefs like these heavy, thick, round chopping blocks that traditionally are made from the cross-section of a tree trunk. I generally use my bamboo cutting board or one of the heavy plastic ones–my favorite plastic ones have gripper feet on one side, which helps keep them still and steady on the countertop, but it also means that you can only use one side of the board.

A Rice Cooker is not a necessity, but it sure is nice, and if you eat a lot of rice, like my family does, it will pay for itself in convenience and ease of use within a couple of weeks. I used to make rice on the stovetop all the time, but when we moved into the last house we owned, the cast iron electric burners on the stove confounded me. I burned the rice every time, no matter what technique I used. It got so irritating, I gave up on my ability to cook rice on the stove, and bought a rice cooker, and I have not looked back.

This from the woman who made fun of her Singaporan friend in culinary school because a chef told him to make steamed rice and he came to me and whispered to me, “How do I make rice on the stove?” I laughed at him and was incredulous until he said, “Everyone in Singapore has a rice cooker. I know how to use those–I have no clue how to cook rice on a stove.”

I ended up teaching himhow to steam rice on the stove, but I also learned something valuable from him . A rice cooker is a piece of equipment that you plug in, pour the rice and cooking liquid in, close it, turn it on and then walk away. It does all the work. And if you get one of the “fuzzy logic” cookers that has a sensor in it that can tell the machine how much water and rice you put in–if you screw up the amounts–the cooker will adjust the cooking time and temperature and still give you perfect rice. Mine is a Zojirushi, and has worked faithful, almost daily (At least four times a week) for four years, and shows no sign of quitting.

Using a rice cooker frees up a burner on the stove, and frees the cook up to concentrate on the timing of other foods, without having to worry about the rice. I would never have thought I would have loved one as much as I do, but now, I would never be without on. I highly recommend them. You can usually find a respectable collection of rice cookers of all sizes and styles at your local Asian market, or you can order one online from eKitron.

If you are going to cook a lot of Indian or Thai foods, you will need a Grinder of some sort. Whether you go in for a mortar and pestle made of stone, or the Sumeet Multi-Grind, or an electric coffee mill and a food processor or blender, you will want something to help you grind dry and wet spices into curry pastes. I have used all of the above methods, and while I still have my mortar and pestle, and will probably get a really large one at some point, I am very fond of and use my Sumeet Multi-Grind all the time. It is a really fine piece of equipment that will grind up any wet or dry ingredient that you would have into a very smooth paste (or powder if all the ingredients are dry), including rock hard galangal and chunks of cinnamon stick, without fail. The parts of the machine that come into contact with the food are all dishwasher safe, so they are simple to clean.

I have had it for nearly eight years and have used it at least four times a week, and it has never choked, failed me or even considered not running. You can order it directly from the manufacturer, or pay more and order it from Williams-Sonoma. I recommend ordering from the maker–that is how Zak got me mine, after all.

If you decide to go the route of the mortar and pestle: stone ones are available in most sizeable Asian markets that cater to Thai and Indian people. They are very tough, very durable and beautiful, and are large enough to make a lot of curry paste at a time, without having to resort to the batch method of curry paste making.

Remember, that if you use a coffee grinder for a spice grinder, that it can only handle dry ingredients. To puree wet ingredients into a paste, you need to use a coffee grinder in conjunction with a blender or food processor, which necessitates using two tools instead of one.

The final necessity of the Asian kitchen is a set or two of Bamboo Steamers. These beautiful baskets are perfect for making steamed buns or dumplings, but you can also steam anything in them, including fish. Just put the fish or whatever meat item you want to steam on a heat-proof plate that fits inside the steamer basket, cover the basket and put it over boiling water. It is as simple as that. These baskets are made to stack on top of each other in a tower, so that you could steam an entire meal in them if you wanted. I have even used mine to make tamales.

Bamboo is superior to metal for making steamers because the water that condenses from the steam is absorbed by the bamboo lid; it doesn’t drip back down on the food, diluting the flavor of the seasoning. They are also inexpensive, durable, and look beautiful as serving pieces on the table as well. You can purchase them cheaply at any Asian market that carries kitchenwares, at places like World Market and at The Wok Shop.

These are the “essentials” of the Asian kitchen, in my opinion. It is possible I left something out, but I tried to pare the list down to those things that I thought would make a beginning cook’s life easier as they took up the challenge of learning Asian cooking at home.

23 Comments

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  1. Hi Barbara – Nice list – I didn’t know the Wok Shop had a website. I’ve purchased some pretty good knives from there during past visits, but had always hesitated in purchasing a wok, because my luggage wouldn’t handle the wok. Make sure to dry those bamboo steamer well between uses, and you’ll have to discard them every so often, especially if you steam seafood often. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this post!

    Comment by Kirk — March 15, 2006 #

  2. Barbara, can the rice cooker cook other grains and beans? That’s sort of the deal-breaker for me, since we do eat lots of rice, but lots of other beans or whole grains too.

    Comment by Hadar — March 15, 2006 #

  3. Hello Barbara,

    You are a kindred spirit as your favorite cuisines happen to be mine also! I love your blog and visit almost everyday.

    Anyway, I thought I’d ask, since you’ve talked about woks, what is the best way seasoning them? I once tried to do so, by getting the wok really hot, and then using a cloth folded up to rub veg. oil onto the hot wok, over and over again for an hour or so. This didn’t work as food still stuck to the wok…and I just gave up on that wok.

    I am going to buy another wok soon, and so will have to learn how to do this properly.

    Comment by Harry — March 15, 2006 #

  4. I totally agree with your list…it is quite comprehensive. I have a not-very-pretty but wildly functional aluminum steamer I got in Chinatown which I prefer to bamboo for ease of cleaning. It has two “baskets” with round holes the size of dines in the bottom of each, a rounded bottom section and lid. I use it for steaming fish, reheating rice, etc…It’s the workhorse of my kitchen. Before I had a rice cooker I used to use it as a kind of low-tech rice cooker to make fabulous rice.

    I love my granite mortar and pestle, and although I use the Sumeet for Indian curries, I still make Thai curries just with the old m&p.

    Comment by Diane — March 15, 2006 #

  5. Great read Barbara. I’m afraid I can’t give up making rice the old fashioned way. I’ve thought about getting a rice cooker, but I love doing it the old fashioned way. One of my favorite implements is my wire skimmer. I’ve been meaning to go to The Wok Shop and order a few more.

    Comment by Sher — March 15, 2006 #

  6. Thats a comprehensive list! I love Chinese and Thai too and learned so much from this post.
    PS – Barbara visited you site after ages, didnt know you had announced the competition. would love to participate! Is the deadline today or April 15? I know you have put it up on IMBB but just a suggestion, maybe you can add a blurb on your blog as well?Cheers

    Comment by Ashwini — March 15, 2006 #

  7. Hadar, I’m not Barbara, but maybe I can help you.

    The thing about rice cookers is that they are ‘tuned’ to cooking perfect rice. There’s no reason why you can’t cook beans inside, but you would certainly have to trial and error a few times.

    You might look at the ‘fuzzy logic’ ones, because they have various settings, such as Brown Rice, Porridge, Coconut Rice etc. Another option is to find a cooker that allows you to set a timer.

    Comment by May — March 16, 2006 #

  8. Thanks so much for this, Barbara! I found in my research that the Wok Shop is a vendor through amazon.com. While for personal shopping I’d call the Wok Shop directly, for things like a wedding registry, it is handy to know that I can register for items from there through a national source.

    I really appreciate you taking the time to post this!

    Comment by Kati — March 16, 2006 #

  9. Oh, yes, Kirk, there is a website for the Wok Shop, so you can take home the wok of your dreams, without having to blow all your luggage space! Also, you can pick one out while you are there, and have Tane ship it back for you. She offered to do that for me the last time I was at the shop in person, but then she also said she had a website, so that is what I used to order my wok.

    Hadar–yes, you can cook beans and other grains in rice cookers. I would get a fuzzy logic cooker, because that will help the cooker be more versatile. Also, in order to get recipes and instructions for cooking other grains and beans in the cooker, I would pick up The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. This is actually one of the most well-worn cookbooks in my collection, because it tells you how many cups of rice and water for every kind of rice you can think of. It does the same for other grains and beans, and has recipes for pilafs and other dishes cooked in the rice cooker. A very worthwhile purchase.

    BTW–I know of folks who make steel cut oats in their rice cookers overnight and then wake up to a hot breakfast!

    Hey, Harry, glad to know you are enjoying the blog. About the seasoning–you are on the right track, you just don’t realize that it takes a few times of seasoning a wok and getting the oil really into the metal–by cooking in it, primarily, is what you need to do. There is nothing wrong with your wok–food will stick a bit the first few times, so the answer is to use more oil in cooking than you would necessarily use normally, and then season your wok again after you clean it out.

    The more you use your wok in the beginning, the quicker the seasoning will build up over time, and the sooner you will have a truly nonstick piece of equipment.

    Also–a trick that I have done with my two current woks that works wonders–when the seasoning gets worn away by improper washing or if I leave something acidic in the wok too long for serving or what have you–I will deep fry something in them. In fact, the first dish I cooked in my cast iron wok was spring rolls, and after that–it was almost completely non-stick. It was amazing.

    So, make a batch of spring rolls, egg rolls, shrimp toast, fried wontons, taro dumplings or whatnot in your old wok, and you may not need a new one after all. (Though, I am of the belief that one can never have too many woks.)

    Diane–the aluminum ones are great–I just don’t like the way condensation pools at the top and drips back onto the food. But you are right–they are super easy to clean. Though, I have cleaned my bamboo steamers in the top rack of the dishwasher a few times. (Kirk–when it is time to retire your old steamer baskets–here is a tip–use them as well drained planters: put moss and a layer of gravel in the bottom of them, and then potting soil, and you can use them for seed starting or planters outside on a deck or a porch. They look really pretty with herbs or pansies in them.)

    Sher–for years, I was like you, until by circumstance I was forced to get a rice cooker. Now, I fear that I am like my Singaporan friend from school–I may not remember the “old way” to cook rice on the stove!

    Ashwini–the deadline for “The Spice is Right” is April 15–I wanted to give everyone plenty of time for the first one. The next deadline will be May 15th.

    Thanks, May!

    Kati–you are welcome–and I am glad that you can do wedding registry through The Wok Shop. That is great!

    Comment by Barbara — March 16, 2006 #

  10. Hi Barbara,

    You mention the chopping boards made from the cross section of a tree – do you know how to look after these kind of boards? I was given one as a gift (from a chinese shop in Manchester, UK), but it cracked and then split right through after a while. I’m sure I should’ve done something better to care for it. I scrubbed it clean with how water and oiled it with vegetable oil occaionally. I loved it, and was sad to loose it.

    This post has inspired me to dust off my wok :)

    Steph

    Comment by Stephanie — March 17, 2006 #

  11. Thank you, May and Barbara!

    Comment by Hadar — March 18, 2006 #

  12. I am so relieved to hear that flat-bottomed woks are acceptable (no gas stove)! We inherited a non-stick one that I use just a lot because it’s deeper than a frying pan, but now I’ll have to go find a carbon steel one.

    Comment by Mel — March 19, 2006 #

  13. Stephanie–I don’t know what I would have done different from you, except you may not have let enough oil penetrate the wood. Before using an unsealed wooden item like that kind of cutting board, you want to use linseed oil to seal it. You put a generous amount of the oil on a soft rag, and rub it into the wood in circular motions until it soaks in. You do this every day for a week or so. Eventually, you will have sealed the wood. After that, you can wash it with soapy water and then dry it all the way–air drying is best–and then add another coat of oil to reseal it. Try that next time and see what happens.

    You are welcome, Hadar!

    Nonstick is fine for a while, but you don’t want to use it after the surface begins to peel up. And it always does, eventually, Mel.

    Comment by Barbara — March 19, 2006 #

  14. Thanks Barbara. The linseed oil sounds like the right thing, remembering how my chopping board went. I’ll give it another go, I think :-)

    Comment by Stephanie — March 19, 2006 #

  15. Great post/list! Check out http://www.thewokshop.com. I went there on a trip to San Fran and was very impressed. I also found great Asian cooking tools in Japantown in a homestore in the mall (bamboo steamers for around a buck). You can also find bamboo cutting boards and sometimes good knives at Marshalls for really cheap. I used to work at SurLaTable and they have a great selection but are pricey. Oh, and one tool I love is an Asian ginger grater.

    Comment by Kady — March 19, 2006 #

  16. Thanks for this great post Barbara! I’m new to your blog, having found it through Simply Recipes, and also rather new to cooking. Or at least “real” cooking. :-) My parents didn’t cook much and so I’ve just made it up as I go along.

    I got a wok set as a wedding gift five years ago that I’ve enjoyed using, but I don’t know if I’m using it correctly. It’s a carbon steel wok, not nonstick, but I don’t think it’s ever been properly seasoned because my husband (the dishwasher in our home) likes to scrub the death out of it every time. He shouldn’t do that, right? What exactly is seasoning, how do you do it, and what should the inside of your wok look like once it is seasoned?

    I use the wok shovel that came with the wok, but I don’t use any of the other components. One is a utensil that looks like the shovel but has a shallow, concave, round end on it. There is also a wire grill shaped like a half circle that I think you’re supposed to hook on the side of the wok? Then there are two sticks with a groove cut out of the middle of one so they fit together. But I don’t know what any of this is for.

    Really looking forward to finally learning how to use my wok properly and start making some great Asian dishes.

    Comment by Zoe — March 22, 2006 #

  17. Zoe–smack your husband on the wrist for me.

    NO SCRUBBING CARBON STEEL WOKS!

    Don’t do it. Don’t go there. That is why it sticks.

    Sorry I didn’t get to your question until now–I have been out of town, but I will answer you point by point, and in fact, may end up working all of this into a post.

    Seasoning is basically, heating up the wok so that the pores in the metal open up. Then, oil is rubbed into the metal, so that it can soak in. This is repeated as necessary–honestly, it takes a long time for a good seasoning to build up in a wok. It is basically oil that has penetrated the metal and bonded to it, and it forms a natural nonstick coating.

    You can do it several ways–but the easiest is to wash your new wok out to get all the machine oil that is used to keep it from rusting when it is boxed up to sale. Scrub it with soap this one time, and rinse really well. Then, heat up your burner to high, and pop the wok into it. Let the heat vaporize the water and boil it away. Then take whatever cooking oil you are going to be using–if you are not allergic to it, I suggest peanut, because of its high smoking point, its healthfulness and fragrance–and pour a small quantity–a tablespoon or two–into the bottom of the wok. Take a lot of folded up paper towels–folded up thickly, and using your wok shovel, start spreading the oil all over the wok. With your other hand, tilt the wok so that all parts of the wok come in contact with the heat, and keep rotating it and rubbing the oil in.

    When it rubs in, you can add some more, and continue the process.

    Then you let the wok cool, and any excess oil can be wiped away. You don’t want it to be sticky.

    What does it look like? The oil, as it bakes into the metal, will turn the carbon steel at first a bit bronze-looking. It will have a golden hue. As you use the wok, and clean it properly (take the food out as soon as it is cooked, carry the wok to the sink, turn on the hot water, put the wok in the sink, and using a bamboo scrubber, scrub any leftover bits of food in the wok. Rinse well, then put the wok back on the stove, dry it by heat, and then rub about a half teaspoon of oil into it with folded up paper towels), this hue will darken.

    After years of use, a carbon steel wok will burn black. That is what it is supposed to look like. It is not meant to be shiny! It is not meant to look like steel after it is seasoned. Don’t let your husband keep scrubbing the oil out.

    I always suggest to people to deep fry something in the wok after they first season thier woks, because the hot oil bath really hastens the seasoning process.

    Remember, seasoning is a process, not a “do it once and forget it” kind of action. It is a process–it is repeated over time. Old woks just keep getting better and better, and more and more nonstick as they are used and cleaned properly.

    Now, as for the other equipment: that rounded wok-shovel looking thing is a wok ladle. In the Cantonese style of cooking, you use the shovel in one hand and the ladle in the other and you use both to stir fry. However, because Cantonese wok stoves are made for woks to fit right into and thus the wok is extremely stable, this action is much easier in China than it is here, where woks either sit flat on the stove, or perch unsteadily on a wok stand. That is why I don’t usually teach people to use the Cantonese method of stir frying with an implement in each hand–I do more of the Northern style, one-handed style of cooking, with just the shovel. In northern cooking, the wok has one long handle–and the chef holds that in the left hand and the shovel in the right, and use it to move food around, or he tosses it in the wok by being flashy and throwing food in the air. (I only show off like that sometimes.)

    The wire half circle does fit on the rim as you figured out and it is used when you deep fry. You can set cooked items there to drain–that way the oil goes back into the wok. I have never used such a rack–I drain onto paper towels on a plate. The rack would just be in my way and it looks all precarious to me.

    The two sticks that fit together like a cross are set into the bottom of the wok so that you can set a plate with food items to be steamed on top of it, with water in the bottom of the wok. You bring the water to a boil, and then you put the plate in, and cover the wok with the lid and you have a steaming chamber.

    Or, you can use the crossed sticks to do tea-smoking. This is a technique where you put tea leaves in the bottom of the wok, along with rice, and then on the crossed sticks, a partially cooked duck or chicken, or other food item. You set the wok over heat, and the tea and rice begin to smoke, and you cover the wok and the smoky tea flavor permeats the fowl.

    I hope you can jump into wok cooking with a little more confidence, now–just keep Mr. Clean away from that wok!

    Comment by Barbara — March 27, 2006 #

  18. Barbara Hi, yes I agree with everything you have said and posted. It really is a great site for people that are unfamiliar with asian cooking. I returned from Thailand and Hong Kong in October and I cannot get enough of their great cooking! I hope mine turns out ok. I have ordered the wok, utensils and cleaning brush as you recommended. Thanks again, it made my search very easy. Joyful eating, Linda

    Comment by Linda Felicio — January 24, 2007 #

  19. I just read this post and found your comments about rice cookers interesting. I had purchased a Zojirushi a few months ago but ended up returning it because I was very unsatisfied with the results. It cooked jasmine rice fine, but I cook mostly brown rice and I never got a good result. The “fuzzy logic” aspect of it didn’t seem to register that the brown rice needed longer to cook and I’d always end up with half-cooked rice in puddles of water when it shut off.

    Are there other brands/models out there that handle brown rice better? FWIW, my Zojirushi didn’t have a brown rice setting; only “Quick Rice,” “White Rice,” and “Porridge.”

    Comment by De in D.C. — September 11, 2007 #

  20. I have read that putting a hot (cladded) pan into cold water repeatedly can cause it to warp. In reference to your cleaning method, is the threat of warping not a danger with cast iron or carbon steel woks? If it is, is it perhaps not a concern because the expense of a wok versus that a cladded product renders it a moot point?

    Comment by Jim — December 4, 2007 #

  21. It probably does make the metal warp–physics is physics, after all, and thin metal can only stand so much rapid heating and cooling.

    Of course, in Chinese restaurants, they literally burn through woks in about a month or so–at home it takes much longer. I have nearly burned off the enamel in a couple of spots of my cast iron wok–it has taken me four years or so to do it. It also no longer sits level–I bought a flat bottomed one years ago because I had a flat burner electric stove to work with. A round bottomed wok might warp, but not enough to cause issues with cooking in it–it doesn’t sit level anyway.

    Since these woks are not very expensive–around twenty-five dollars or so–having one last for four years means that I can certainly afford to buy one every four years or so.

    Comment by Barbara — December 4, 2007 #

  22. A well written piece. I’m trying to run my kitchen on a minimalist selection of cookware but I know at some point I am going to have to pick up a wok. Although I didn’t realise there was so much choice and variation.

    Thanks for sharing!
    John.

    Comment by kitchen equipment — August 26, 2010 #

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