Posted on: Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Cooks cherish their favorite kitchen tools, and here's why
By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor
We asked chefs and home cooks to name the tool they most prized in their kitchens, and also checked out offerings at local kitchen stores. The suggestions roam the globe and have a wide price range.
Heat-resistant spatula from Rubbermaid; $9, Kilgo's or elsewhere. "(It's) the tool I'm most happy with and (it) saw heavy action when I was working the omelet station at the Mandarin. It's the secret to making a good omelet. You can use it to stir-fry the ingredients, whisk the eggs to create convection (which helps the omelet set faster, therefore not browning or drying it out) and because it's flexible you can work it around the sides and under the omelet to make sure it's ready to flip.
Frank Gonzales, chef and director of noncredit courses for Kapi'iolani Community College culinary program
Thai-style green granite mortar and pestle; $20 in Chinatown. "Heavy as a piece of furniture but I cannot make curry pastes without it. Or pesto! This is the one Jamie Oliver uses."
Tan Sam, Honolulu home cook, originally from Thailand
Dick and Jan Mills, Kalihi Valley home cooks
Le Creuset cookware, cast iron with enamel finish; various prices up to the hundreds of dollars. "Very durable and will last a lifetime. Great to cook with as it has a very even cooking surface."
Chef Antony Scholtmeyer, Ritz-Carlton Kapalua
Duncan's Kitchen Grips, high-tech heat-resistant kitchen mitts; $29.95, Executive Chef. "These things look like something a fireman would wear but they really work. I never get burned anymore and they go up my arm almost up to the elbow."
Anna Ku'umaile, home cook, barbecue enthusiast
Food mill and tamis; food mill is a bowl containing a metal blade that turns with a handle and drives food through strainer ($20 to $80, depending on materials), tamis ("tammy") is a round, hand-held screen-mesh strainer (plastic set with various sizes of screens, $20); both available at kitchen supply shops or online. Used to make silky-textured vegetable purées. "If you don't have (a food mill), you can't make mashed potatoes."
George Mavrothalassitis, chef-owner, Chef Mavro.
Whisks, various styles and sizes for various chores; from about $14 in cooking supply stores and online. New styles of whisks include the Kuhn Rikon Palm Spring Whisk ($15.95), with a top like a palm tree's frond, which whips and froths quickly and is especially good for hard-to-dissolve ingredients; and the Easy-Store Whisk from Kuhn Rikon is a collapsible general-purpose balloon whisk that stores flat ($14.95). Whisks are a standard in professional kitchens; check for comfortable size, weight, handle design. Tiny mini-whisks are great for small amounts of cornstarch slurry and such.
Ginger grater, white porcelain disc with sharp teeth, trough for juice; $5, Shirokiya, Daiei, Marukai. "My girlfriend taught me to use this grater, "shoga oroshi," which is amazingly sharp and handles the tough fibers of ginger well."
Dana Silva, home cook, Waipahu
Screwpull wine opener, lever-action wine opener; about $50. "It's so easy to use I make every newcomer open the first bottle to just watch their face. Clamp it on, close it down, open it up it even ejects the cork."
Catherine Tarleton, home cook, Big Island
Dynamic burr mixer, stick mixer; French-made Dynamic brand about $300, home versions about $50. "This is an immersion-style hand blender that allows me to puree soups and sauces directly in the pot. Kitchen Aid makes a smaller version perfect for the home cook. Besides soups and sauces, you can make smoothies and shakes directly in the glass, whip eggs, even make homemade baby foods.
Brian Noordman, executive sous chef, Pacific'O restaurant, Lahaina, Maui
Tongs, various sizes; from $7, kitchen supply stores or online. Chefs consider tongs an extension of their hands, using them for everything from turning or moving food to picking up items too hot to handle. Kuhn Rikon's Easy-Lock Tongs (about $18) are flat, wire tongs perfect for turning fried patties, delicate fish fillets and such without tearing them apart.
Cuisipro Accutec Shaver, ultra-sharp tool for creating thin shavings; $16.50, kitchen supply shops. Stainless steel shaver results in thin, wide shavings of hard cheese on salads or pasta, delicate chocolate curls for desserts, ribbons of vegetables. It's the latest in a line of hardy, rust-resistant hand-held graters from Cuisipro.
Turner Spatula, long-bladed, flexible metal spatula for turning fish; $62.50 online from www.knivesandtools.com. The one tool he carries with him as he moves between the restaurants he supervises.
Miles Tokigawa, executive chef, Waikoloa Beach Marriott.
Salad Sac, cloth bag that preserves greens; about $10, mail-order or cooking supply shops. "Made of a special toweling-style cloth, these bags give you an extra couple of days of freshness from washed greens."
Wanda Adams, Advertiser food editor.
Eurosealer, battery-operated bag sealer; $14.95, As Seen on TV Store Hawaii, Ward Warehouse. Small device uses mild heat to melt bag surfaces, causing them to adhere and seal. "I'm a sucker for these things you see on TV, but this is one that I've found really valuable. As a single person living in humid Kane'ohe, I threw away a lot of chips, crackers, cereal and things like that until I got the Eurosealer."
Sandra Miller, home cook
Mama's rolling pin, long, handle-less, slightly curved French pastry roller; $7.50, Executive Chef. "Baking together was something (my mother and I) did on a regular basis and we used this rolling pin. It's very worn; it has lots of little knicks. I can sort of feel her hand when I use it. If I bake at anyone else's house, I always have to take it with me. It makes me feel warm."
Bonnie Friedman, cookbook author, home cook, Kula, Maui