I still remember when I first came out to stay on my own, I was excited about the idea of cooking for myself and friends, but little did I know I would not be cooking full blown till a few years later. The reason being, apart from having to share the kitchen with 8 other girls, is that I do not have a decently equipped kitchen.
When you want to at least start cooking seriously for self and maybe others, you should at least have a few basic but essential kitchen tools and appliances. With them, you will find that cooking in the kitchen not so much of a task but something enjoyable instead. Besides the right kitchen appliances, I want to talk about the right kitchen tools to aid you in preparing your food and cooking.
Knives and Cutting Board
If we want to pare down to the essentials and must haves, then for knives we actually really need only two. One big knife and another little knife. But of course we would need a chopping board to go with it but a knife sharpener can be optional if you really need to go minimal Just remember to bring it for sharpening every few months to keep it in tip-top condition. In a pinch, I use the back of the knives to sharpen each other, works like a charm every time.
Chef Knife / French Knife
You need a chef knife for all general cutting stuff like chopping, slicing and dicing that you would surely do a lot, such as herbs, onions, garlic, fruits, vegetables and meats to name the common few. It can even be used for chopping bones that are not too big too.
Meanwhile you would need a paring knife for more delicate work like deveining shrimp or removing seeds, skinning mushrooms or cutting small garnishes. For me I always use it to remove fats from chicken, or de-boning small bones and to get into corners of food that need more precision.
Cutting / Chopping Board
For the knives above, you would need a good chopping board for all your knifing activities. Although personally I am using a plastic chopping board from Ikea, which is good for it’s budget, I would have preferred a wooden chopping block. A good chopping block will serve you well for years, so do try to invest in a good one.
A lot of professional cooks out there would call for a good cast iron pan , few sizes of fryings pans and pots. These could easily add up to 6 items just for pots and pans! If I have to really choose and make do, then all you really need is a good mid-sized frying pan and a stock pot, though yes sometimes it may not be effective if you make in small quantity or not enough if you need to make more, it will do for 90% of your cooking.
Frying Pans / Skillet
For simple pan fried to Chinese stir fry or any other cooking, all you really need is just a good frying pan. Do get those with good non-stick coating to save from cleaning nightmare later. Invest in a good sized non-stick pan and it will cover most of your fire cooking needs. Nothing is more frustrating than food that sticks to the pan while cooking.
When it comes to making soup, stock, boiling and braising large meats, you need a good tall and deep stock pot with a fitting lid. You may find it useful from simple tasks like boiling pasta to more complicated ones like braising meat, making stew and boiling soups.
These little kitchen heroes are a good aid from your most menial tasks to your most important ones. With these few important utensils, you will find that cooking is less of a chore and more about enjoying making great food.
This is one of the tool in kitchen that I used a lot unknowingly. You will find that you need to whisks all sorts of things such as blending salad dressings, whipping eggs, blending different liquids together and dissolving solids into liquids. You can get your whisk in either stainless steel or nylon (in which case would not scratch non-stick surfaces).
These little kitchen heroes aid us in most of our kitchen tasks
At first I do not have a peeler in the kitchen but I soon found out that I need it for a lot of things that initially thought can be done by knife. These are such as removing skin from vegetables and fruits quickly and effectively and also for making cheese shavings and chocolate curls.
Tongs / Chopsticks
This spring-loaded tools are one of the unsung heroes in the kitchen. Unknowingly I have used it for many occasions, such as transferring food, grabbing hot plates, reaching into hot water and mixing salads. For those savvy with the chopsticks, it will do almost everything a tong can, in exception to reaching into hot water in a deep pot, for that you may consider getting a really long chopsticks.
I find myself getting frustrated on occasions when I try to scoop large quantity of liquids out such as soups and other liquids with spoons or alike. Next I would be desperate enough to try pouring it out to save time but end up with splashes everywhere. So yes, you do need a decent ladle for this very simple task.
Colander / Strainers / Sieve
A colander is useful when you need to drain larger foods like boiled vegetables and pasta or chopped fruits and vegetables. Meanwhile we would need a smaller strainer for separating solids from liquids such as juice pulps or tea leaves. I have both of them but on hindsight, a mesh strainer in mid size might just cover both tasks.
Have a Kitchen Checklist
Now that I have slowly equipped my kitchen of the essentials tool, due to space and budget constraints, I find that I almost never need to use anything else. Even that I do have tools that I do not need lying around or maybe only used in rare occasions, so a kitchen checklist would be useful for those who are just starting out to equip their kitchen and good for those who want to de-clutter and simplify their current kitchen. Those mentioned above are my must-haves and most used tools in the kitchen whether when I cook for one, two or a party of people. Use the kitchen checklist to stock up your kitchen with the right equipments and you are well on your way to more happy cooking!