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 10 Must-Have Chinese Cooking Utensils

10 Must-Have Chinese Cooking Utensils

Written by Candice SongUpdated Sep. 26, 2023

Tasty Chinese foods have always had close relationships with both chefs' cooking techniques and their cooking utensils. With these cooking utensils, you can cook many of your favorite Chinese dishes at home:

1. A Cleaver

Chinese: 切菜刀 qiēcài dāo /chyeah-tseye daoww/

A Chinese cleaver has a rectangular shape. It is heavy and thick with a wooden, plastic, or stainless steel handle. It is designed to chop through bone.

Chinese chefs use cleavers to do many things, such as slicing un-boned or boneless meat; chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing vegetables; cutting vegetables into delicate, fanciful shapes, and crushing garlic or ginger.

Materials: A cleaver can be made from stainless steel or high carbon steel.

2. A Cutting Board

Chinese: 切菜板 qiēcàibăn /chyeah-tseye-ban/

A cutting board is used for protecting the worktop when cutting vegetables and chopping meat. It's often useful to be able to lift it to push prepared ingredients into a wok or bowl. There are three types of cutting board: wooden, bamboo, and acrylic. The best ones are wooden or acrylic.

3. A Wok

Chinese: 炒锅 chǎoguō /chaoww-gwor/

Chinese Cooking Utensils

The wok is one of the most widely used cooking utensils and the most important one in Chinese cooking. It can be found in the kitchen of almost every Chinese family.

Woks are a multi-functional piece of cookware. They are used for almost any type of cooking including deep-frying, stir-frying, roasting, steaming, stewing, braising, and even boiling.

Material: most of them are made from carbon steel or iron

Variations: There are many types of wok, including round-bottom, flat-bottom, electric, stick, and non-stick types.

4. A 'Wok Shovel'

Chinese: 锅铲 guōchǎn /gwor-chan/

A good 'wok shovel' is a must-have tool in Chinese cooking. It's more than just a spatula or turner...

A wok shovel is designed for wok stir-frying and scooping, and is the best utensil for most stir-fries. The round edge at the front of the mini shovel fits the curve of the wok perfectly. It is very convenient to have a utensil that really scrapes up the last of the tasty food from the bottom of the wok.

A sturdier wok shovel allows stirring and tossing of larger quantities of food.

Materials: They are usually made from metal, wood, or bamboo.

5. A Chinese Scoop Strainer

Chinese: 漏勺 lòusháo /lo-shaoww/

A Chinese scoop strainer is used for straining, skimming, and deep-frying. It is very convenient to lift a fried fish, pieces of meat, and chips from hot oil, or to remove noodles, wontons, and dumplings from boiling water.  

There are different sizes to choose from. The most common size for home use is 15-cm (6-inch) diameter.

Materials: Chinese scoop strainers are made from a round head, of wire or perforated stainless steel, and a long bamboo or metal handle.

6. A Ladle

Chinese: 汤勺 tāngsháo /tung-shaoww/

A ladle is used for serving soup or stew from a pot or wok to a bowl.

Materials: They can be made from stainless steel, aluminum, silver, plastic, wood, bamboo, or other materials.

7. Long Chopsticks (and Ordinary Chopsticks)

Chinese: 长筷子 cháng kuàizi /chaang kweye-dzuh/ (筷子 kuàizi)

Cooking chopsticks are used for fishing food that is not easily scooped out of a steaming wok or pot, like noodles and individual pieces of food. They are longer than those used for eating (30+ cm, 12+").

Ordinary chopsticks are used in the kitchen for stir-frying, beating eggs, and mixing ingredients.

8. A Rice Cooker

Chinese: 电饭锅 diànfànguō /dyen-fan-gwor/

A rice cooker is an electric cooking utensil that is used for pressure boiling or steaming rice, and other things. Chinese people, especially in southern China, prefer to eat rice as their staple food. They use a rice cooker almost every day.

Modern rice cookers also have different settings for different cooking functions - people use them for stewing meats, cooking porridge, steaming eggs, heating milk, and so on.

Rice cookers are more heat efficient than hob cooking as they are well insulated and maintain steam pressure well.

They are also safer and more reliable than a pressure pot on a hob, as they turn themselves on to keep-warm mode when the cooking program is finished, giving consistent results. No burnt food worries here!

9. A Pressure Cooker

Chinese: 高压锅 gāoyāguō /gaoww-yaa-gwor/

Pressure cookers are used for cooking food faster than conventional cooking methods. Some are electric and some use heat from a hob. Pressure cookers can be used to cook many things, including rice, porridge, and spare rib stew.

The working principle of the pressure cooker is to use steam pressure, which is created by boiling liquid inside the closed pressure cooker to cook food faster.

Never try to open the pressure cooker before the pressure inside it has been completely released: it is dangerous! This is usually not a problem as a you can't untwist the lid until you've turner the pressure release valve - watch out for the steam!

10. Steaming Baskets

Chinese: 蒸笼 zhēnglóng /jnng-long/

Not everything is stir-fried in China... The Chinese use steaming baskets a lot during cooking. They are used for steaming all kinds of food, including dumplings, buns, fish, pancakes, meat, and vegetables.

They allow for making multiple dishes at the same time by stacking layer upon layer of these tray-like baskets. They have different sizes and are often used in conjunction with a wok.

Materials: There are usually two types of steamers: bamboo basket steamers and metal basket steamers. Metal steamers are easier to clean.

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