Cooking Chinese food at home can seem a somewhat daunting task. If you’ve ever witnessed the wonder of a traditional Chinese cook, working the wok and creating a perfectly prepared of stir-fried noodles with just a set of chopsticks, you know the feeling of wishing you could develop that talent and do it at home.
Well, you can. Like all things it takes practice of course. But here we explain the best tools to have on hand, so you can hone those culinary skills and create your very own Chinese favourites.
The simple but effective cooks favourite, trusty Long Wooden Chopsticks. To be treated as an extension of your hand, Chinese cooks truly become one with the chopsticks. Why wooden and not steel or plastic? Well wood does not conduct heat, and when working with small delicate ingredients like fish, wooden chopsticks have the finesse needed to keep food intact.
Let’s not forget the Wok! For Chinese cooks, this is the traditional equivalent to today’s multi-cooker. Perfect for stir-frying, deep-frying, boiling, and steaming. Woks are specifically designed to focus all the heat to the bottom, while the slopes provide a cooler oasis for food. Do not get caught up in the “non-stick” feature for a wok – you don’t want it. It is the sticky nature that makes wok cooked meals taste so unique. Always go for hammers steel and make sure it has a tight-fitting lid.
Another crucial tool is a spider strainer. Chinese wok cooking is usually hot and fast, and when you are deep frying this tool becomes your best friend. Don’t get caught out trying to pick out 2 or 3 wontons or spring rolls out at a time while their friends are still swimming in the oil burning quickly. One of these with a good size handle will allow you to work through your fried goods with speed and without hurting yourself.
No Chinese kitchen is complete without a heavy cleaver. Heavy is the operative word here, it’s the weight that does the work for you. From chopping and scooping veggies to breaking down a whole duck, this all-rounder is a real workhorse. We highly recommend you getting a good quality cleaver, as like the chopsticks it will become your best friend.
An extension to the wok is the bamboo steamer. This piece of equipment is essential for steaming all kinds of food, from sweets to dumplings to whole fish, buns and meat. Avoid stainless steel steamers, though we know they are easy to clean, bamboo is always best because water does not pool in them avoiding soggy food. You want steamed not soaked. Plus, an added feature is the stacking, you stack multiple at a time to create the perfect yum cha experience in your very own home.
Finally – there is one staple in Chinese food that we need to cover, and that is Rice. Unlike woks or steamers, where more traditional methods and tools are recommended. Here we suggest getting a rice cooker. You are guaranteed perfectly cooked rice every-time and honestly when you are focusing on the fast pace action in the wok, you can rest assured your rice cooker is doing its job to perfection without being baby sat.