Usually with a matching cover, a wok is indispensable in a Chinese kitchen. It can be used for stir-frying, frying, boiling, stewing, etc. Woks in China are mainly made of iron, since it is proved that iron woks won’t produce harmful substances and can be heated evenly during the cooking process. Meanwhile, cooking by an iron wok is also helpful for supplementing iron that is a necessary microelement in human body. However, iron has a strong tendency to rust if exposed to air and damp, so it’s advisable a work is not good for cooking soups.
Electric Rice Cooker
Invented in Japan in 1950, an electric rice cooker has been popularly used for cooking rice in China. There are usually some fitting parts with it, including a black or gray tank, a steamer, a spoon, a measuring cup and a power cord. People just pour in the washed rice and a certain amount of water (the proportion between the rice and the water is usually 1:1.5) in the tank which is then put into the cooker, connect the power, and then rice will be cooked automatically in half an hour. For some skillful house wives, it is also used for preparing soups, steaming buns or braising meat.
Also named gas range (ring), a gas cooker is both a converter converting the chemical energy of the gas into heat and a heater heating the woks, pans, steamers, etc. It is mainly made up of the gas supplying part (gas pipes, valves), assisting part (ignition device, automatic controllers) and the gas burner. To be safe, a gas cooker must be set in a kitchen with good ventilation; the master valve should be closed when there is no one at home; the joints of gas pipes should be checked regularly; there should be no flammable things placed near.
A kitchen knife is just made of a piece of iron and a wooden handle, used to cut the vegetables and meat into slices, strips, chunks, etc. The best knife is made of heat-treated chromium steel. They hold the edge (sharpness) longer than most stainless steel knives. With it, vegetables are changed into thin and smaller pieces which are easier to be cooked, served and eaten. A good kitchen knife usually has an even blade of steel. To keep a kitchen knife in good condition, it should be dried or coated with a thin film of oil to prevent rusting.
A chopping board is usually a wooden, plastic or bamboo board, round or square. Most Chinese families used to use the traditional wooden ones, and some young people favor plastic ones. Actually, wooden chopping boards will produce wood flour easily, and the plastic ones may cause bacteria. Thus, the best should be the bamboo ones which are light and smooth with antimicrobial effect. However, even if using the chopping board made of bamboo, it is advised to clean and place it vertically at a ventilated place to dry.
Basin, Bowls and Plates
Basins of all sizes are also necessary in a kitchen, mainly for washing vegetables, meat and fruits. Some basins are made with small holes at the bottom called colander for the draining. Bowls and plates are used for serving and presenting food. Bowls are usually round shaped, while plates are made into various shapes – either leaflike or barrel-shaped with colorful patterns on the sides to go with different dishes. Currently, various fine stainless steel basins, bowls and plates are gradually popular instead of the fragile plastic and porcelain ones in a Chinese kitchen.
Mainly used for stir-frying dishes, cooking shovels sold in the market are made of iron, stainless steel, wood or bamboo. However, the ideal cooking shovel should be iron, since part of the iron that is an indispensable micronutrient for human body will melt into the dishes through the friction against the wok during the cooking process. Thus, it is advisable to buy and use iron shovels in stead of the stainless steel ones of beautiful appearance. Meanwhile, bamboo shovels is also a good choice, which is light and won’t do much damage against the wok.
Ladle and Colander
Most Chinese house wives used to cook dishes by a cooking shovel, while most chefs in the restaurants will cook with a ladle instead, since it is more convenient for both stirring and adding in the seasonings. A ladle is just an enlarged spoon with an additional wood handle, made of various materials such as iron, stainless steel, wood or bamboo. Those made with holes at the bottom are named colander used mainly for draining the food. In addition to stir-frying dishes, a ladle is also a good tool for serving soups.
A delicious dish depends on the chef, while even a skillful chef can’t cook a delicious dish without necessary seasonings (spices). Spices especially those spice powders will change its flavor over time easily if not well kept. Thus, spice kit was invented. It was originally heavy earthen bottles or jars. Along with the advancement of the society, it has been made into all shapes with various colors catering to people’s different favorites nowadays. Meanwhile, the materials are also varied such as wood, iron, ceramics, plastic and stainless steel.
Spoon and Chopsticks
Unlike westerners, Chinese used to eat almost all of the food with chopsticks, while spoons are just used for drinking soups as a supplement. Both of them are made of various materials ranging from wood, silver, ivory to the present plastic and stainless steel. However, the best ones used for eating should be bamboo or wooden chopsticks and ceramic spoons without any paintings on. Furthermore, chopsticks are not only important tableware, but they are also an auspicious present for the newly-married couple, since they reads ‘kuaizi’ (have a baby soon) in Chinese.
A fridge is necessary in the kitchen. It is used for storing and keeping the vegetables, meat and fruits fresh for a longer time. Meanwhile, it can also make beans soft easier, remove the spice of the green onion and garlic, lessen the bitterness of the bitter melon, etc. A fridge can be used for over 10 years usually if under good maintenance. First, it should be placed in an unventilated, dry and dustless place in the kitchen. Second, it should be cleaned at least twice both inside and outside every year. Third, switch off the power supply if it won’t be used for a long time.