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Steve Yun
Aug 7, 2003

I
ANALYZE
CARTOONS


Soiled Meat

Hi and welcome to the new and hopefully to-be-updated-more-often GWS kitchen equipment recommendation thread!

HOW THIS THREAD IS STRUCTURED:
- The first post contains the FAQ. This is where we keep most of our product recommendations for commonly asked categories. If you're new, check the FAQ first and see if your question is answered there. If not, post a question and ask!
- Everything after that is posting questions and answers.

WHAT THIS THREAD IS FOR:
- Asking recommendations for kitchen equipment
- Giving recommendations for kitchen equipment
- Posting links to sales of kitchen equipment

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:
- GWS has many cooking experts, and even they disagree about some things sometimes
- There are many other resources out there, most notably Amazon.com's user reviews of many kitchen products


THE FAQ:


I'M NEW TO COOKING. WHAT EQUIPMENT DO I NEED?

For the typical kitchen you will probably want to start out with the following:
- 8 inch chefs knife (or 8 inch gyuto or 7 inch santoku)
- Paring knife
- Measuring spoons
- Liquid measuring cups
- Dry measuring cups
- Cutting board
- Stainless steel skillet
- Stainless steel sauce pan
- Stainless steel pot
- A cheap wooden utensil set (spoons and turners)
- Colander or strainer
- Can Opener
- Grater
- Mixing bowls
- Oven pads or mitts

Stuff you can add later that most people will use, depending on your needs:
- Timers (get this and use it if you don't want to forget that you're cooking something and start a fire)
- Spatulas/turners (semi-redundant with wood turners, read guide below)
- Non-stick skillet (semi-redundant with steel skillet, handy for eggs and fish)
- Veggie peeler (semi-redundant with paring knife but much faster, safer)
- Bread/serrated knife (semi-redundant with chef knife, handier for breads and tomatoes)
- Shears (semi-redundant with knife, handy for meats)
- Whisk (semi-redundant with a fork or chopsticks but much more effective)
- Tongs (semi-redundant with turners but handier)
- Instant read thermometer (improved cooking accuracy)
- Steamer basket (if you plan on steaming)
- Some cheap citrus juicer (probably a glass dome reamer)
- Kettle or electric kettle (semi-redundant with boiling water in pot)
- Kitchen scale (for more accurate measurements than measuring cups, generally needed for baking)
- Garlic press (semi-redundant with knife, depends if you like crushed garlic or not)


KNIVES

What knives should I get?
- Cheap: Victorinox Fibrox 8 inch chef knife ($33) and paring knife
- Medium: Tojiro DP gyuto knife ($50) and paring knife

Both of those brands are extremely solid for their price and can even serve as your permanent knives (although if appearance matters to you maybe you want to spring the extra $20-40 for the Tojiros). Once you decide if you want to get into more expensive knives, you can decide whether you want to get into the school of Western knives with their rounder curves, softer steel and heavier builds (Henckels, Wusthof, Messermeister) or Japanese knives with their straighter edges, harder steel and lighter builds (MAC, Shun, Global, Moritaka). If you want to get into more advanced stuff like that, try the Knife Thread.

If you do get a western style knife, please do not get one with a finger guard:

The finger guard gets in the way when you're sharpening the knife. You won't notice it at first, but eventually as the metal gets ground away over several sharpenings, the finger guard will stick out and prevent the edge of the knife from making full contact with the cutting board. For contrast, here is one without a finger guard. You can sharpen that one all you like and the edge will always make contact with the cutting board.

Generally we recommend against getting knife sets. You end up buying a bunch of knives you don't need when most people do fine with just three or four knives. Most people never need a boner, for example *cough* The most important knife (and maybe your most important piece of kitchen equipment) is the 8 inch chef knife. Second most important knife is the paring knife.

What about other kinds of knives?
- A santoku is mostly redundant with a chef knife, and some people will use this as their main knife instead of a chef's knife or gyuto. A santoku is generally 7 inches long instead of 8, and is thinner than most chef's knives, which is good for cutting vegetables and delicate meats.
- A serrated knife is good for things that have tough skins and squishy insides (bread, tomatoes, etc).
- A slicer is for long clean cuts of big roasts/hams.
- Fillet or boner is for separating meat from bones or removing fish skin cleanly and with the meat intact.

Knife storage
- Metallic magnet bar ($6-$23)
- Knife safes or knife guards ($3-$8 per knife)
- Wooden magnet bars ($26-$45)
- Universal Knife Blocks ($25-$40)

Got a bunch of hodgepodge knives but wish you could get a knife block to hold them? Well, there's really no right or wrong answer here, it's just whatever seems convenient to you. At the very least though, don't just leave your knives sitting around loose in your drawers with a bunch of other metal utensils because being knocked around will cause them to get dings or get dull, and dull knives don't cut well and slip more often and that's how you end up with a $500 hospital bill. I will add my personal experience with metal magnet bars though, they do dull your knives if you pull them off the wrong way, and if your knives are wet when you stick them on, they might start forming rust after a while, so go with wooden magnet bars if you can.

How should I sharpen my knives?
- Easy and bad: Pull-through sharpener ($10)
- Easy and expensive up front: buy an electric sharpener
- Easy and expensive eventually: Go to a knife shop ($3-8 per knife per sharpening)
- Medium: Spyderco Sharpmaker ($55) or AGPTek sharpening systems ($30)
- Hard: sharpening stones

About every few months to a year your knives will get dull and it's time to sharpen them. No, rubbing them on a honing steel is not sharpening, that's just straightening the edge a little. There is a lot of debate over this, but your options for beginners on the low end are A) use an Accusharp or Edge of Glory or other pull-through sharpener, which is super easy but gets kind of a rough edge, or B) go to a knife shop or key duplicator or other kind of shop that has a knife sharpening service or C) buy an electric knife sharpener. All the knife nerds will try to convince you to put in the effort to learn how to use a Spyderco or AGPTek sharpener, because you can sharpen knives like a pro with just a little bit of practice. Don't get into sharpening stones, it's hard mode sharpening and even if you're a pro it's kind of a boring rear end chore.

What kind of cutting board should I get?
- wood (lasts a very long time, requires some maintenance)
- plastics (super easy, but doesn't last forever)

First of all, do not ever ever ever use glass, acrylic, marble or granite as a cutting surface. These things will dull your knives. You want to use either wood or plastic (okay, acrylic is technically a plastic but it's super hard). Plastic cutting boards can be run through the dishwasher and resist bacteria pretty easily at first, but will need to be replaced eventually as cuts start accumulating (a good rule would be to toss them if the cuts in the plastic start getting stains that won't wash out). Wood cutting boards require some rubbing down with wood oil every couple months in order to keep from drying out and cracking, they can't be put in the dishwasher, but will resist accumulation of cut marks a lot longer than plastic boards. And theoretically you can sand them down if they get deep gashes.


COOKWARE

What kind of cookware do I need?
- A stainless steel skillet for most things, probably 10" or 12"
- A 10" or 12" non-stick skillet for delicate or sticky things
- A stainless steel sauce pan, probably 2-3 quarts
- A 6 quart stainless steel pot, for casseroles and stews
- Optional: 3 quart non-stick sauce pan if you want to make lots of cheese or other goopy things
- Optional: 8-12 quart stock pot, if you want to make stocks and soups
- Optional: cast iron skillet if you want to sear things with high heat
- Optional: cast iron dutch oven for frying
- Optional: pressure cooker

That's about all you really need. Everything else is sorta redundant, but that's not necessarily a bad thing either. Sometimes you want several sauce pans and several skillets if you're cooking a multi-course dinner. So you gotta decide, are you going to buy your stainless steel cookware piecemeal, or do you want to get a stainless steel cookware set?

What if I want to buy them piecemeal?
Your best option is to go to a discount store like TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Ross or Marshall's. Now, there are two general categories of stainless steel cookware you'll see there: A) stainless steel with aluminum disc bottoms (obvious because they have a fat metal pancake stuck to the bottom of the cookware) and B) "tri-ply" or "multi-clad" cookware, where the entire thing is a layer of aluminum covered in another layer of steel. Tri-ply and multi-clad cookware is only slightly more expensive than disc-bottom cookware, and they provide better heat distribution (which helps avoid hot spots and burned corners), so I would recommend getting those if you can. Practically any brand of tri-ply or multi-clad cookware should work great, although beware: sometimes the label will try to fool you by calling it a "tri-ply disc bottom." If you already have disc-bottom cookware, don't fret, it will still cook great, you just need to keep a slightly more diligent eye out to make sure you don't get hot spots in your food.

What if I want to buy a stainless steel cookware set?
- Cheap: Tramontina 8 piece set ($120 Walmart exclusive), Kirkland 13 piece set ($180 CostCo exclusive, $150 on sale),
- Middle: Cuisinart MCP-12 ($240 on Amazon), Calphalon Tri-Ply ($272 at Bed Bath Beyond after 20% coupon)
- Fancy: All-Clad ($600-$1600)

Note that the main downside to Tramontina, Kirkland and Cuisinart sets is that they don't have a 12" skillet, which is pretty handy to have sometimes. But hey, you can probably just find a loose 12" skillet for cheap at TJ Maxx! Also note that the Calphalons have tempered glass lids, which let you see how your food is progressing but aren't safe to use in the oven over 450F. If you have money to burn and want the best, you can get All-Clad sets, which generally run $600-1600. All-Clad also offers copper-core cookware sets, but some posters have noted that they don't see much of an advantage with them over aluminum cores. Also, if you're going to get All-Clad you might want to get one of the newer ones that say they have rolled edges/rolled lips, it helps with pouring more cleanly. Personally, I hate All-Clad's handles except for their newest TK line which is a Williams Sonoma exclusive

My stainless steel cookware has all these horrible ugly stains, how do I clean them?
- Use a $4 can of Bar Keeper's Friend to scrub them down once a month or so when they get too dirty. Also, a $1 steel wool scrubby helps a lot.

Non-stick skillets?
- cheap: any old non-stick skillet you find at a discount store should work fine for a few years
- great: Calphalon Contemporary non-stick 10 inch and 12 inch two-pack ($50)is a great pair of pans and if you get it with a Bed Bath & Beyond 20% coupon it comes down to $40.
- greater: Calphalon Unison 8 & 10 inch 2 pack ($56) or Calphalon Unison 10 & 12 inch 2 pack ($79)

Most non-stick pans fall apart after a few years of use, but I've had my Calphalon Contemporary pans for five years and they're still working great. Not as slick as before, but still good enough to cook eggs on medium heat and have them pop off. Don't use metal utensils in non-stick cookware BTW, it will scratch up the non-stick layer and make it fall apart faster. Also, don't heat it above 500F or else it might shorten the lifespan of the pans (and may possibly release unhealthy fumes). And don't wash non-stick cookware with green scouring pads, those will scratch them up almost instantly. The Unison line is even slicker if you don't mind paying a few more bucks.

I heard teflon non-stick pans are dangerous! What about ceramic non-stick skillets!
Well, supposedly they release fumes but there's some debate about how dangerous these fumes really are. At any rate, you shouldn't be heating them up past 500F because it will cause the teflon coating to fall apart sooner. 400F is perfectly sufficient to crisp up fish skin, sear scallops and other seafoods. If you need higher temperatures because you want to sear steaks, you should really be using a staineless steel or cast iron skillet. Ceramic non-stick cookware is promising, but as far as I know from online reviews, they don't maintain their non-stick slickness as well as teflon pans. Maybe someday they'll get better but that day doesn't seem to have come yet.

Dutch ovens. Do you even need one?
- Cheap: Lodge enameled, Tramontina enameled, IKEA "Senior", all $40-60
- Medium: Cuisinart ($80-100 at discount stores)
- Fancy: Le Creuset, Staub ($120-$150 at discount stores)

You can get by with just using the multi-clad pot from a stainless steel cookware set for most applications. Once in a while you might need a heavy cast iron dutch oven if you want to sear meat and then throw it in the oven, but even then you can just break out the skillet for searing and then move it into a stainless steel pot for the rest of the cooking. If you want to deep fry however, a dutch oven is nice because the thick, heavy walls help to smooth out temperature changes. If you decide you want one, the next question is: bare cast iron or enameled? Bare cast iron shouldn't be used often for acidic foods like tomatoes or wine, and since you can find enameled ones for roughly the same price range you might as well go with those. Lodge enameled dutch ovens can be found for $40 at Ralph's, IKEA carries their "Senior" for $50, Tramontina at Walmart for $40. If you absolutely need a fancy Le Creuset or Staub to show off to your friends, or if you just want a particular color that's only available by Le Creuset, try Home Goods or similar discount stores. Often times they'll get Le Creuset overstock for $120 or so (half price). 5 quart dutch ovens will snugly fit a whole chicken. Keep in mind that once in a while an enameled cast iron dutch oven will have the enamel flake off or bubble. It's just bad luck, but raising the temperature on it gradually and not blasting the stove on high all the time might help.

Pressure cooker, do I need one?
- Cheap: Presto 8 quart aluminum pressure cooker
- Medium: Fagor 10 quart steel pressure cooker (8qt would have been ideal but they discontinued it)
- Fancy: Kuhn Rikon 8qt steel pressure cooker

Pressure cookers can cook things way faster than conventional methods, something something science pressure makes things cook faster blah blah blah. A stock that would have taken 6 hours can now take 1. Also you can steam cook several things at once by stacking a bunch of metal bowls full of food inside and cooking for about 10 minutes. Keep in mind that they have a maximum fill line that's about 2/3-3/4 of the internal volume, so you can only really cook about 6 quarts of food in an 8 quart cooker, etc. If you're making stock this greatly affects your final output, which is why we recommend 8 quart cookers instead of the more popular 6 quart size.

Should I get an electric pressure cooker?
Well, the reviews about most electrics is that they can't actually get up to the proper pressure, and they are mostly limited to 6 quarts and use a non-stick pot inside which isn't very durable, so... probably better to get a stovetop pressure cooker instead.

Baking sheets?
Get some cheap aluminum baking sheets in half sheet and quarter sheet sizes! They're $10 online, but you can probably find them in a restaurant supply store for $7 or so. You can wash them in the dishwasher, but keep in mind that aluminum oxidizes and turns gray and ugly in the dishwasher. If you want one that stays beautiful through the wash, there are some steel ones. I've even seem some "tri-ply" ones which are aluminum on the inside and steel on the outside for about $10 at a outlet kitchen store. You can also get nonstick ones, but keep in mind that if they get scratched by metal utensils, they'll start flaking off.


SMALL APPLIANCES

Do I want a stand mixer or a hand mixer?
A hand mixer will do almost everything that a stand mixer can, it just takes twice as long. However, if you're going to do bread doughs you absolutely want a stand mixer, since it's a big burden on the motor and a hand mixer might get worn down and break faster under the strain. If you have the money however, a stand mixer is also nice because you can turn it on and do other things while it's mixing. And it can handle much larger volumes at a time.

Which hand mixer?
The KitchenAid 5-speed Ultra Power ($31) and the Cuisinart PowerSelect 3-speed ($30) are both well-reviewed hand mixers

Which stand mixer?
Strong: KitchenAid Artisan ($280) ($220 refurb can be found at kitchen outlet stores)
Stronger: KitchenAid Pro 600 ($340)
For bread: Bosch Universal Plus Kitchen Machine ($380)

Before we used to recommend KitchenAid, Cuisinart and Breville stand mixers, but lately there have been many reviews complaining about the performance of the Cuisinart and Breville mixers when it came to bread dough, so we're only recommending the KA's as an all-around mixer. Since KitchenAid is the most popular brand it has the most accessories available to it too.

SymmetryrtemmyS is sort of our resident bread expert and recommends the Bosch mixer if you're going to do a lot of bread. The "planetary" mixing motion of the KitchenAids makes it better at mixing most things thoroughly, but the Bosch's simpler orbital motion makes it stronger, which helps a lot when dealing with tough dough.

Are there any cool accessories I should get for my KitchenAid mixer?
- Beater Blade: If you don't want to scrape down the sides of your stand mixer's bowl every few minutes you can buy the Beater Blade ($19-$21) which has spatulas built in and scrape while it mixes (make sure to buy the correct size for your mixer). KitchenAid's official spatula beater sucks because they're perfectly vertical and this allows food to climb up the bowl. The Beater Blade is diagonally tilted, which moves the food downward.

Do I want a blender or a juicer?
A juicer will extract all the juice from a fruit or vegetable, and leaves the fiber behind. A blender will liquefy everything in the fruit and vegetable, including the fiber which is probably better for you. A blender can also make smoothies, blend soups and make many other foods so it seems like it's more useful. So, go for a blender first and if you find that you really want juice, get a juicer.

Which blender?
Cheap: Kitchen-Aid ($60) or Ninja ($80 for 1000w model)
Middle: Breville Hemisphere Blender ($160 after 20$ coupon at BBB)
Fancy: Vita-Mix ($380-600 new $330 refurb) or Blend-Tec ($400)

Blending is a tough job requiring lots of power and strong build quality, and VitaMix has been the gold standard for a long time. Not only do they have the strongest motors, they have lifetime warranties and automatic shutoff if it detects that it might get overworked, which is why they're used professionally. Either you got a lovely blender or you paid out the nose for a Vitamix. Recently Breville started filling in the gap in the middle with their Hemisphere Blenders, which don't have motors as strong but try to make up for it with a round-bottomed jar and automatic shutoff.

Which juicer?
- cheap: Any old $20-30 orange juicer should do
- good: Any Jack Lalanne Power Juicer or Breville Juice Fountain should do
- awesome: Omega Masticating juicers

Do I need a stick blender?
These are pretty handy for blending soups without having to transfer it from a pot to a blender and back. They won't get it as smooth as a regular blender, but sometimes you just don't care because using the blender is too much of a hassle. They're also great for making mayonnaise. Costco currently has a great Cuisinart stick blender that comes with a whisk for $30

Do I need a food processor?
Well, it kinda depends. When it comes to dicing vegetables, it's very messy and the pieces are random sizes, but if you're using a spinning slicer attachment or grating/shredding attachment they do acceptably well and save a lot of work. Small ones are good for making pesto as well.

Which food processor would I get then?
- Small: Proctor Silex 2 cup Chopper ($13)
- Big: Cuisinart 14 cup processor ($170)
- Powerful: Robot Coupe R101 ($527), the consumer version of a popular restaurant workhorse

Rice cooker?
- Cheap: Any cheap $20 piece of poo poo
- Better: Aroma 20 cup cooker ($37)
- Really good: Cuckoo brand rice cookers
- The Gold Standard: Zojirushi ($146)

Like, any cheap $20 tinpot rice cooker should cook rice acceptably well, but if you want God's Perfect Rice, the consensus is that you should get Zojirushi. They come up with a new way of programming rice cookers which was marketed as "fuzzy logic" which gets perfect results. Zojirushi cookers can also keep rice warm for days without drying out and avoids getting browned rice stuck at the bottom of the pot like cheaper cookers will. Other companies have been following in their footsteps since, and lately Aroma and Cuckoo have been trying to fill in the gaps in the middle.


TOOLS, GADGETS AND ACCESSORIES

About OXO
In general if your question is "which brand of this tool should I get," most of the time it will be Oxo brand. Not always, but most of the time. They're generally well-designed and affordable. Even if they're not the best they'll be second best or something.

Spatulas/turners?
- For nonstick pans: Oxo Nylon Flexible Turner ($7) or Oxo Silicone Flexible Turner ($10)
- For metal pans: Oxo Flexible Spatula ($8) or Oxo Fish Turner ($13)

Metal turners and spatulas are nice and long-lasting, but will scratch non-stick pans. Plastic pans won't scratch up non-stick pans, but will eventually melt down over time and maybe even in one careless accident if your pan is above 450F. Wood utensils work in non-stick and metal pans, are cheap and you can treat them like crap, but they're really thick and clumsy for certain things and will eventually need replacing as well. Silicone utensils will also work in both metal and nonstick pans and are heat resistant to 600F, but are slightly thicker than plastic or metal utensils. If you want a super thin metal turner, the Oxo Good Grips Flexible Spatula is great, but kinda flimsy for heavy things. If you want a sturdier metal spatula that's still thin you can get the Oxo metal Fish Turner (yes, for general use). Oxo's thin Nylon Flexible Turner and Silicone Flexible Turner are also great in their categories.

Tongs?
- For metal cookware: Oxo 12 inch stainless steel tongs ($13)
- For nonstick cookware: Oxo 12 inch nylon tongs ($13)

Always get 12 inch tongs, 9 inches is not enough and gets your hands too close to hot splattering oil when frying. If you're grilling you want to get the 16 inch kinds.

Mandoline slicers?
- Cheap: Benriner ($22)
- Medium: Swissmar Borner ($40)
- Superfancy: Bron ($140)

Slicers scare me! Is there a way to keep my hands from being slashed to ribbons?
Usually they come with a hand guard, but if that's not good enough, get a cut-resistant glove! Note that you'll have to wash them every time you use them since they'll get vegetable juice on them and they'll start to stink if left overnight. If you want to keep them clean you can put a latex glove over it.

Liquid measuring cups?
Oxo's plastic cups with the black handles have accurate measurements. Glass ones like Pyrex or Anchor... for some reason their quality control is crap, often having their measurement lines off by as much as 1/10. Off the beaten path there are adjustable cups which are cylindrical tubes with accurate measurements and a plunger/pusher that's ideal for gooey ingredients like honey or peanut butter.

Dry measuring cups?
Any of Oxo's dry measuring cups should work well, they're very accurate and ergonomically designed.

Should I get a garlic press?
There is plenty of debate over whether you should even use a garlic press in the first place. For some people it's a huge time saver and gets maximum aromatic effect, for others the pungency of crushed garlic is too powerful. It's a matter of personal preference. If you decide you do want a press the Trudeau garlic press works great for $20. I've bought and tried a dozen different brands and they're all annoying in comparison, either their hoppers are too small or they squirt garlic out the edges or they're hard to clean.

What kind of thermometer should I get?
You should get lots of thermometers! First of all, get an instant-read thermometer. If you want to fry, get a fry/candy thermometer. If you want to roast huge chunks of meat in the oven, get a meat probe thermometer. If you want to have fun and go pew pew, get a laser thermometer.

Instant-read thermometers?
- Cheap: Thermoworks Thermopop ($30)
- Fancy: Thermoworks Thermapen v.4 ($99) although they go on sale often

Thermapen is roughly $99 and amazingly accurate, and gets readings in about 3 seconds. You can wait for a $20 off sale or a clearance of older models every couple of months from ThermoWorks' website or if you want to save more than that you can get one of Thermoworks' Thermopops for $30. These take about 6 seconds to get a reading but are otherwise just as good.

What am I looking for in a laser thermometer?
It seems like the only thing differentiating the different laser thermometers is the range of temperatures they can measure. If you want to measure if your pan is hot enough to sear, you want a laser thermometer that can read above 500F. If you want to measure if your tandoor is hot enough to make naan or if your wood-fired oven is ready to make pizza, you want a laser thermometer that can measure 900F. Keep in mind that this only reads surface temperatures, so it's not going to be very useful to measure the outside temperature of a roast (you should be using an instant-read thermometer to measure the inside) but it can tell you if your skillet is at the right temperature or if a pot is cool enough to touch.

Spice grinders?
- Automatic: A coffee grinder
- Manual: A mortar and pestle

That's right, you can use a coffee grinder to grind spices and they'll come out pretty good! Just make sure to have one for coffee and one for spices, unless you want your coffee to taste like cumin and cardamom. Later on down the line if you want to take it to the next level, consider getting a mortar and pestle. The mashing of spices together helps to blend them more thoroughly and gets a pleasing "home-made" texture in things like pesto and chili paste. Our resident Indian cuisine expert Dino recommends using a porcelain one because of its texture being able to provide traction while mashing ingredients.

Graters?
- fine zesting: the Microplane zester ($13) works pretty awesome on citrus peels and is also great for light, snowy chocolate or cheese.
- coarse grating: Microplane ultra-coarse grater that's great for coarse shredded cheese and vegetables

Mixing bowls?
A) Get metal bowls because you can beat them up and not worry about them cracking, and B) get ones that are relatively deep cause you don't want to accidentally mix too hard one day and have your food fly out of a shallow bowl.

Oven pads or mitts?
Get the kind that use both fabric and silicone, they provides the best heat protection and comfort. Oxo makes a really good pad ($10) and mitt ($15)

Can opener?
Get this Ez-Duz-It ($9) can opener. It used to be that Swing-Away was the standard everyone trusted, but ever since they moved manufacturing from the USA to China, people noticed quality went downhill. The Ez-Duz-It is made in the USA and seems to work like the old Swing-Away.

Steve Yun fucked around with this message at Nov 13, 2015 around 08:57

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whoredog
Apr 10, 2002



So much great info!



I can only add, my life changed a few months ago when i finally got a laser temp sensor gun. One of my favorite things in the kitchen now and it was only $15. I test that poo poo on everything. Love knowing how long til something boils or is cool enough for kids tongues.

Shadowhand00
Jan 22, 2006

Golden Bear is ever watching; day by day he prowls, and when he hears the tread of lowly Stanfurd red,from his Lair he fiercely growls.

Toilet Rascal

I can't imagine restaurants using high-end staineless steel pans when they're cooking their food. Are they using the really cheap stuff or do they really make an investment on those types of pans/pots?

Steve Yun
Aug 7, 2003

I
ANALYZE
CARTOONS


Soiled Meat

As I understand it, most restaurants actually use simple aluminum pans, which you will only find at restaurant supply stores.

EAT THE EGGS RICOLA
May 29, 2008



Shadowhand00 posted:

I can't imagine restaurants using high-end staineless steel pans when they're cooking their food. Are they using the really cheap stuff or do they really make an investment on those types of pans/pots?

Places I worked at usually had really cheap aluminium pans, a few quite nice nonstick pans, and a bunch of cheapish riveted stainless pans.

Steve Yun
Aug 7, 2003

I
ANALYZE
CARTOONS


Soiled Meat

whoredog posted:

So much great info!



I can only add, my life changed a few months ago when i finally got a laser temp sensor gun. One of my favorite things in the kitchen now and it was only $15. I test that poo poo on everything. Love knowing how long til something boils or is cool enough for kids tongues.

Keep in mind that the laser thermometer only measures surface temperatures. This is fine for water and thin soups, because water distributes heat throughout itself pretty quickly, but when you're dealing with thicker things like heating up a custard to make ice cream or making thick soups or whatever, the surface temperature can be 20F to 40F lower than the temperature at the bottom of the pot.

dead comedy forums
Oct 21, 2011


Wise goons, what do you think about rice cookers?

I cook a lot of rice and I have been thinking about getting one. While I have no trouble using a saucepan for that task, the convenience of setting up and even steaming some veggies as it manages the rice is persuading me (also more space on the stove can't hurt). I have read Alton Brown's opinion on it and I was surprised that he actually recommends it, because it isn't a kitchen unitasker as it first appears.

Thanks in advance

SymmetryrtemmyS
Jul 13, 2013



Transmetropolitan posted:

Wise goons, what do you think about rice cookers?

I cook a lot of rice and I have been thinking about getting one. While I have no trouble using a saucepan for that task, the convenience of setting up and even steaming some veggies as it manages the rice is persuading me (also more space on the stove can't hurt). I have read Alton Brown's opinion on it and I was surprised that he actually recommends it, because it isn't a kitchen unitasker as it first appears.

Thanks in advance

If you want a rice cooker, get one of the good ones, with a computer that intelligently applies heat instead of just being a plug-in pot. Tiger makes good cheap ones, and the Aroma model is pretty nice too, but Zojirushi is the gold standard. One of the benefits of the higher end ones is that you can hold rice for hours or days without it drying out or burning, so don't be put off by how long they take to cook rice. You can even add your rice and water and set a schedule, so you can have fresh rice for breakfast or dinner or whatever.

Test Pattern
Dec 20, 2007

Keep scrolling, clod!


SymmetryrtemmyS posted:

If you want a rice cooker, get one of the good ones, with a computer that intelligently applies heat instead of just being a plug-in pot. Tiger makes good cheap ones, and the Aroma model is pretty nice too, but Zojirushi is the gold standard. One of the benefits of the higher end ones is that you can hold rice for hours or days without it drying out or burning, so don't be put off by how long they take to cook rice. You can even add your rice and water and set a schedule, so you can have fresh rice for breakfast or dinner or whatever.

A good brand just below Zoji is Cuckoo, who are starting to push into the US market.

dead comedy forums
Oct 21, 2011


Thanks for the replies. Any suggestions on a good capacity? Smaller models do not seem to have that much of an extra functionality (like the steamer) but I have no need for a 10-cup monster.

This one seems pretty solid. It apparently delivers godlike rice every single time, so perhaps it is worth 120+ USD?

The Midniter
Jul 9, 2001



Transmetropolitan posted:

This one seems pretty solid. It apparently delivers godlike rice every single time, so perhaps it is worth 120+ USD?

Yep

teraflame
Jan 6, 2009


Thing is with most rice cookers is that the pots have nonstick coating, including all the zojirushis. It will definitely wear off and get into the food in a few years. I had to retire a couple before.

I eventually bought a Buffalo rice cooker, which has a stainless steel pot. A bit more expensive but I have no doubt it would last.

The Midniter
Jul 9, 2001



teraflame posted:

Thing is with most rice cookers is that the pots have nonstick coating, including all the zojirushis. It will definitely wear off and get into the food in a few years. I had to retire a couple before.

I eventually bought a Buffalo rice cooker, which has a stainless steel pot. A bit more expensive but I have no doubt it would last.

Looks like a replacement pot for the one mentioned above is only $35. Not too bad of a replacement cost once every couple years.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004





things not in the OP that I use very very frequently.

also I'd add hard anodized cookware as an option between nonstick and stainless. and mention santoku's - a lot of folks prefer them hands down over a chef's knife, and there are good cheap options.

well put together op!

Steve Yun
Aug 7, 2003

I
ANALYZE
CARTOONS


Soiled Meat

Okay I expanded a little more

Is there a go-to cheap santoku that is universally recommended like the Victorinox or Tojiro DP?

Steve Yun fucked around with this message at Nov 5, 2015 around 02:48

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004





Steve Yun posted:

Okay I expanded a little more

Is there a go-to cheap santoku that is universally recommended like the Victorinox or Tojiro DP?

I bought my mate this, it seemed pretty solid to me http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-Fo...u/dp/B008NEF3KM

this would be my mid range suggestion http://www.amazon.com/Mac-Knife-Sup...rds=mac+santoku

Marta Velasquez
Mar 9, 2013

Good thing I was feeling suicidal this morning...


Fallen Rib

I was going to make a kitchen equipment regret thread. Looks like I waited too long.

Steve Yun
Aug 7, 2003

I
ANALYZE
CARTOONS


Soiled Meat

No reason why you can't post kitchen equipment regrets in here, or still make a whole thread about it. I have plenty of kitchen equipment regrets!

whoredog
Apr 10, 2002



My biggest Kitchen Equipment Regret: I don't have a pressure cooker.

I borrowed a friends for a while, and it was amazing

Steve Yun
Aug 7, 2003

I
ANALYZE
CARTOONS


Soiled Meat

mindphlux posted:

mini food processor, for dressings, sauces, garlic, whatever (http://www.amazon.com/Proctor-Silex...words=mini+prep) I use this 10x more often than my actual food processor or blender

Is this comparable to like a magic bullet or does it chop differently?

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004





Steve Yun posted:

Is this comparable to like a magic bullet or does it chop differently?

I don't know what a magic bullet is

I googled it, and it looks like a mini blender

so yeah, this would be different, this is like a mini food processor. you can get an even rough chop

Liquid Communism
Mar 9, 2004



Fun Shoe

Steve Yun posted:

Is this comparable to like a magic bullet or does it chop differently?

I use the poo poo out of a magic bullet for small serving emulsified dressings when I can't be arsed to break in my whisk arm.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004





Liquid Communism posted:

I use the poo poo out of a magic bullet for small serving emulsified dressings when I can't be arsed to break in my whisk arm.

why brah

that's what aerolattes are for

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...M6Q23G6C2869EKE

0 cleanup, thank me later

Steve Yun
Aug 7, 2003

I
ANALYZE
CARTOONS


Soiled Meat

You put your dirty aerolatte in the next cup too?

Marta Velasquez
Mar 9, 2013

Good thing I was feeling suicidal this morning...


Fallen Rib

mindphlux posted:

I don't know what a magic bullet is

You've never been drunk at 4AM with the TV on?

Marta Velasquez
Mar 9, 2013

Good thing I was feeling suicidal this morning...


Fallen Rib

My parents' kitchen only has appliances from infomercials. Also, they don't own a saucepan.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004





Marta Velasquez posted:

You've never been drunk at 4AM with the TV on?

I don't own a TV

teraflame
Jan 6, 2009


I bought a bunch of spices in bags, what can I get for cheap to store them?

Steve Yun
Aug 7, 2003

I
ANALYZE
CARTOONS


Soiled Meat

8 oz or 4 oz mason jars, they're actually 100% airtight, something most spice jars can't claim.

Croatoan
Jun 24, 2005

Hold the line, I have shitposting to do.


mindphlux posted:

I don't own a TV

Of course you wouldn't.

Plan Z
May 6, 2012



I really consider a some kind of spice grinding equipment to be a must-have these days. I hate those flavorless jars of powder so much that when my friend and I opened our own kitchen, we swore never to use powdered spices for any reason. Easiest would be to get one of the electric or coffee grinders listed above. Mortar and pestle works well, but if you have the time to season a molcajete, I'd take that over the M&P. Molcajetes have a coarser build, so they'll grind down whatever you want in a flash. They have that added effect that cast iron does in that once you season it, you never need to wash it with soap again, and it will only result in better-tasting food as time goes by. The only real problem with them is that the seasoning is a process. I could do a write-up for that if it pleases the court.

Rotten Cookies
Nov 11, 2008

gosh! i like both the islanders and the rangers!!! :^)


Plan Z posted:

I really consider a some kind of spice grinding equipment to be a must-have these days. I hate those flavorless jars of powder so much that when my friend and I opened our own kitchen, we swore never to use powdered spices for any reason. Easiest would be to get one of the electric or coffee grinders listed above. Mortar and pestle works well, but if you have the time to season a molcajete, I'd take that over the M&P. Molcajetes have a coarser build, so they'll grind down whatever you want in a flash. They have that added effect that cast iron does in that once you season it, you never need to wash it with soap again, and it will only result in better-tasting food as time goes by. The only real problem with them is that the seasoning is a process. I could do a write-up for that if it pleases the court.



I'd like to see what that process is. My biggest gripe with the mortar and pestle I've used is that they are not coarse at all and just don't seem to grind up spices very well.

Fenrir
Apr 26, 2005

We will fight them to the last. And we will defend those that cannot defend themselves. Today we fight, brothers and sisters. Today we stand up and never, ever relent. Brothers and sisters -- prepare yourselves. Today we go to WAR!


Lipstick Apathy

mindphlux posted:

mortar & pestle

The best thing ever for grinding up home grown dried peppers, and I use it like a religion.

Fo3
Feb 14, 2004
Interested party

Fenrir posted:

The best thing ever for grinding up home grown dried peppers, and I use it like a religion.
Then you get chilli in everything.
I use a cheap blade coffee grinder for chillies (as I have more of them and do bigger batches than I do with spices to grind)
I use the mortar and pestle for grinding toasted seeds, like cumin, coriander etc as part of a recipe prep.

E: as far as food processors, I have to give a shout out to babby's first processor, the philips.
Comes with a blender, processor, and a mini processor (good for nuts and tahini making) http://www.philips.com.au/c-p/HR776...-food-processor

It's not all powerful, it won't blow you away, I also have the powerful breville blender for that. But a good thing to get if you're not sure how much you'll use a processor before buying something more expensive. Small mainbowl suits small servings - I often have to do two batches for falafels or a soup to serve 4-6, but sometimes a small bowl is handy, like when making mayo. Anyway, worth a look for people only making dinner for 1 or 2. It's lighweight and small.

Fo3 fucked around with this message at Nov 8, 2015 around 11:15

Captain Bravo
Feb 16, 2011

An Emergency Shitpost
has been deployed...

...but experts warn it is
just a drop in the ocean.

Plan Z posted:

The only real problem with them is that the seasoning is a process. I could do a write-up for that if it pleases the court.

Holy poo poo, please do this immediately. I love my Molcajete because it grinds so well, but I had no idea that seasoning it was even a thing. It's such a major pain in the rear end to try and wash it thoroughly after each time I use it, I should have known I was doing something wrong.

Chef De Cuisinart
Oct 31, 2010

Brandy does in fact, in my experience, contribute to Getting Down.

Re: KitchenAid plastic gears.

KitchenAid uses plastic gears in the most likely to jam areas so you only break a gear, not the whole mixer. Older models used softer lead gears, and the pro models do as well. Even Hobart, who we all recognize as the end all be all of commercial kitchen equipment, uses lead gears to prevent motor burnout. Replacing a few gears costs , or in the case of a Hobart $200, but that's so much better than a new KitchenAid($3-600) or a new Hobart($15-50k).

Chef De Cuisinart
Oct 31, 2010

Brandy does in fact, in my experience, contribute to Getting Down.

Fo3 posted:

Then you get chilli in everything.

I'm failing to see the problem.

Chef De Cuisinart
Oct 31, 2010

Brandy does in fact, in my experience, contribute to Getting Down.

And I know this a triple post, but, as far as restaurant pans we use cheap single ply aluminum, the highest end Vollrath nonstick, and a lot of cast iron or carbon steel.

Plan Z
May 6, 2012



Captain Bravo posted:

Holy poo poo, please do this immediately. I love my Molcajete because it grinds so well, but I had no idea that seasoning it was even a thing. It's such a major pain in the rear end to try and wash it thoroughly after each time I use it, I should have known I was doing something wrong.

I was gonna do a more in-depth thing with pics and stuff, but I'll just throw in a quick and dirty one. Seasoning molcajetes is a bit of a pain, but really worth it. I've heard a million ways, but this is how a person in Merida taught me how.

1) Soaking: Take the molcajete and tejolote (the pestle part) and soak them fully in a container of water for 12-24 hours. When they're out, immediately start hitting them with some kind of metal brush (I use my small copper brush from my workbench). Just run it over the food-touching parts (bowl, bottom of the tejolote) until there's a relative smoothness. You don't need to go nuts, especially on the non-food-touching parts. Two or three quick strokes against any surface is fine enough.

2) Grinding your Beans: Clean and rinse the molcajete and let it sit for another day or so until it's fully dry. Depending on factors, it may be an overall darker color now, maybe not. Once it's completely dry, take half-handful of dried beans of your choice, and start grinding them into powder, making sure you're grinding against as many different surface areas of the bowl as is possible. Don't pound; you want to be grinding them in a sort of stirring motion. If you're having trouble breaking them down, you can throw the dried beans in a blender or food processor to crack them open a bit (that's how I actually learned it from Mexicans. The blender may be one of the most indispensable modern utilities for Mexican cooking).

Grind that powder up and down into the bowl. You'll notice it goes from white to a gray*. That's what you want. It means that you're wearing away the outer layers of the molcajete. Basically two goes with the beans is enough. The rice ends up doing more work. Wash out the bowl with hot water and some kind of scrubbing implement.

3) Grinding Rice: Start taking half-handfuls of dry rice and grinding them. You can use the blender trick again to break them up into smaller chunks if the grinding is too much work. You want to hit the whole surface of the bowl again, pulverizing the rice into every nook along the surface. It'll be the same deal as the beans. Dump out the powder you make as the batches turn from gray to white. You can make some hor chata out of the last powder or whatever. Then you want to take some rice soaked in water for about 15 minutes, and grind it down into a paste (use the blender again if needed). You can do additional batches if you want, but it's not really necessary. Scrub it out with some hot soapy water when you're done, and wait to dry again. The surface of the bowl and tejolote should be smoother, but not completely smooth.

4) The easy part: Get about four or five large cloves of garlic, one or two fresh chiles (serrano, jalapeo, etc.), a few pinches each of kosher or rock salt, cumin seeds, black pepper, chopped white or green onion, and mash everything into a paste**. Thoroughly Cover the bowl, tejolote, and the rim of the bowl in the past,e and let it sit for at least half a day. Then scrub the inside with hot water only. From that point on, you don't need to wash it out with soap anymore, just like cast iron. It's a loving process to be sure, but it's worth it in the long run.



*For these powder steps, you don't need to be a lunatic about getting it all snow white. Lots of gringo directions will say you need to do this and that, but you mostly just want to get the easiest sand out.

**This is just one way of doing it. You can throw in more or different things, but this is probably the most baseline combination. One lady from the Yucatan told me she's used that olive relish that I forgot the name of in this process, while others have said things like pickled onion.

Plan Z fucked around with this message at Nov 8, 2015 around 18:43

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THF13
Sep 26, 2007

Keep an adversary in the dark about what you're capable of, and he has to assume the worst.


Test Pattern posted:

A good brand just below Zoji is Cuckoo, who are starting to push into the US market.

Any ones in particular to look at? I can't find a lot of information in English about them. Sweethome is recommending this ~$220 10 cup pressure cooker model since it cooks faster than their previous pick of a ~$150 Zojirushi.

I also am thinking of buying Sweethome's pick for a toaster oven since it seems more useful than a regular toaster without taking up much more space, but having never actually owned a toaster oven I'm not sure it's worth it.

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