Aaand part 2 of my 10 kitchen essentials (part 1 is here).
6. Wok: my multi-purpose frying pan. Woks, strictly speaking, don’t really work well on an electric stove–which means I didn’t bother to buy a carbon steel or aluminium or fancy one. Basically, I have a wok-shaped frying pan, which may not exude the breath of the wok but is darn handy for approximate sautéed noodles and various other preparations. The one accessory I did buy was a multi-format lid like this one , which basically fits all our sizes of frying pans. It’s handy for a number of uses, not the least of which is steaming food within the pan.
7. Rice cooker: not worth introducing this one anymore. We bought a really fancy one, but in the end what we mainly use is the rice cooker function, and the steaming basket (very handy for dim sum and bánh bao, which have a tendency to stick like limpets to a metal steamer. Though a trick I saw last Saturday at the Chinese restaurant was putting your dim sum on top of a large carrot slice, which served the double purpose of looking pretty and preventing stickiness).
8. Lemon reamer: I got my wooden lemon reamer from Habitat at clearance prices (my sis will, I’m sure, remember the time when I crossed Madrid on a metro just to buy it ). We have (or used to have) a juicer, but it doesn’t work very well on limes or lemons because they’re broadly longer than larger, and the juicer broadly made for oranges which tend to be as long as they are large. I ream a lot of limes because they’re a basic ingredient of the ubiquitous nước mắm dipping sauce; but never really more than a few at a time (otherwise I’d invest in a squeezer or something more appropriate), and it’s nice to have something which helps you get juice out of a lime in one minute flat. My reamer looks a bit like this.
9. Maryse: a maryse is a very particular kind of spatula; I’ve looked around a bit but haven’t found an English equivalent (if any reader of this blog knows, please speak up!) It’s a (flexible) rectangle which enables you to scrape from a pan or salad bowl. It looks a bit like this (the left-hand one; the right-hand one is what we’d call a “demi-maryse”). It’s invaluable for any kind of pastry, as it enables you to get almost all your dough from the bowl where you mixed it (or all your chocolate from the saucepan in which you melted it, etc.), but I’ve also found it handy for cleaning out pans with mashed potatoes or any kind of semi-tough preparation that doesn’t have the good grace to come flowing out of the pan. One of those tools that my husband doesn’t see the use of (he goes for a spoon or a normal spatula), but that I use all the time.
10. Pastry brush: very very handy for making xá xíu pork or for bánh mì chiên tôm (shrimp toast). I got a silicone one because there was no way I was hunting down for bristles in my barbecued pork. It’s one of those things that I don’t use often but that’s really handy to have in the kitchen when I do. Mine is a bit like this, but with a metal handle instead of a wooden one, which means I can chuck it in the dishwasher directly.
And that’s the end of my list. What about you? Other things I’ve missed that you feel should be on this list?