Chinese cuisine is a unique cooking style featuring many unique cooking techniques and its own cooking utensils. Practicing Chinese cooking is so much easier if you have the best equipment and utensils, and here we’ve put together a list of utensils to help you learn and practice authentic Chinese cooking.
Below, we will discuss some of the most important Chinese cooking utensils that you can use if you want to cook various Chinese dishes at home. Most of them are fairly affordable and easy to find in various online marketplaces today. You can check the availability and the current price by clicking on the images (Aff.links)
1. Chinese Wok
Known as 炒锅 (chǎoguō), the wok is the signature of Chinese cooking, and it is also one of the most used cooking utensils in China. This is also due to the wok’s versatility, as they are used for almost any type of cooking techniques from stir-frying to deep-frying and even boiling.
The wok comes in several different variations, the most common is the round-bottom wok, but there are also flat-bottom woks and other types. Most of them are made from carbon steel or iron, and newer woks are non-sticky.
Called 锅铲 (guōchǎn), the wok shovel is another must-have utensil in Chinese cooking. The wok shovel is much more than the standard spatula but is also designed for scooping and stir-frying. This is mainly due to the rounded edge at the front of the shovel, which is designed to fit the curve of the wok.
The wok shovel is mostly made of metal, but there are also those made of bamboo and wood. (Check-out more Wok tools)
3. Wok Brush
The bamboo wok brush is an important Chinese cooking utensil to clean the wok effectively, which is especially useful when using woks that are made of sticky materials. The wok brush can properly clean the wok without needing any detergents, while at the same time won’t ruin the wok’s surface.
The wok brush is larger than a typical dish brush, allowing us to clean the wok much faster (and easier). Especially useful for cleaning sticky sauces, egg, cheese, and other sticky ingredients.
Related reading: “What Makes a Wok Special? All You Need To Know About Chinese Wok“
There are two versions of Chinese ladles, and the first one is called 汤勺 or tngsháo. It is mainly used for serving soup or stew from a stewing pot, wok, or slow cooker. They can be made from various materials from stainless steel, aluminum, silver, plastic, and even wood/bamboo.
The second version is called hoak, which features a longer handle and a more horizontal end. Used to scoop fried rice, or other sticky foods from the wok, and is typically made of metal.
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5. Chinese Scoop Strainer
A Chinese scoop strainer, as the name suggests, is mainly used for straining foods from the surrounding liquids (water, broth, or even oil).
Also called 漏勺 or (lòusháo), it is an important tool in Chinese cooking, and is very convenient to lift a fried fish after it is deep-fried or also to remove noodles, wontons, dumplings, and various dishes from boiling water.
The Chinese scoop strainer comes in various sizes, but the most common is around 6-inch (15 centimeters) in diameter.
6. Fine Mesh Strainer
Another variation of the scoop strainer, characterized by smaller spaces between the wires/mesh. It is used in various ways from straining flour, straining spices from sauces, and even for making various dishes.
A fine mesh strainer is typically not used to strain fried foods from oil, as oil tends to stick on the fine mesh and so we might not strain the food as effectively. Also comes in various sizes, and you might need to have a few different sizes in the kitchen depending on your needs.
7. Chinese Meat Cleaver
The rectangular Chinese meat cleaver also called 切菜刀 or qiēcài do is one of the signature Chinese cooking utensils and is famous for being thick and heavy. It is made to be heavy with thick surface since it is designed to cut through bones.
However, it is also a versatile tool and can be used to perform many techniques from slicing boneless meat to mincing vegetables and even crushing ingredients like garlic or shallot. Typically made from stainless steel, but some premium meat cleavers are made of carbon steel.
Do you want to learn more about Chinese cuisine? Check out these cooking courses and books – Opens in new tab.
8. Cutting Board
The cutting board is mainly used for protecting the kitchen table when cutting foods and ingredients, but also to easily lift the whole prepared ingredients into the wok or pot. In China, the cutting board is called 切菜 (qiēcàibn) and can be made of many different materials from wood to acrylic to various plastic materials.
9. Clay Pot
The clay pot is a very important utensil in Chinese cooking, with so many clay pot dishes in Chinese cuisine. The clay pots have been around for many centuries and will produce a unique flavor for the dishes cooked in it due to the alkaline nature of the clay. Claw neutralizes the acidity of the food, and so the clay pot acts as a natural sweetener. This is why liquids and foods are sweeter and taste better in clay than other vessels. In Chinese cooking, we can use the clay pot in the oven or on the stove.
10. Mandoline Slicer
The mandoline slicer is a very useful cooking utensil to cut and slice various foods and ingredients in a much faster and convenient way. You can easily slice foods in various thicknesses depending on the needs of the dishes with the mandoline and is essential in various Chinese dishes especially for dishes that are stir-fried.
Modern mandoline slicers are also made with safety guard, and you can always wear a cut-resistant glove to protect your hands while using it.
Related reading: “10 Most Important Chinese Cuisine Cooking Methods“
11. Metal Steamer
The multi-level metal steamer is useful to reheat various dishes and mainly rice-based Chinese dishes and vegetables. We can also use the steamer to cook steamed dishes like buns, dumplings, and various dim sum dishes. Great to have in any house, and it’s easier to maintain and clean than bamboo steamers, which we will discuss right below.
12. Bamboo Steamer
Although as we have discussed, metal steamers are much easier to clean, the bamboo steamers are useful for certain Chinese dishes since they don’t allow water moistures to accumulate, unlike the metal surface.
So, the bamboo steamers are useful to steaming or heating buns, vegetables, and fish while maintaining their nutrients. The slotted bottom and the lid design allow the bamboo steamer to trap the steam effectively while also allowing enough circulation. The bamboo material also helps in retaining heat and absorbing excess moisture. (More Bamboo steamers)
13. Rice Cooker
Since rice is a very important part of Chinese cuisine, the rice cooker is a very important utensil in Chinese cooking. Since most Chinese people prefer rice as the primary food, the rice cooker is used almost every day in most Chinese houses.
The modern rice cooker typically offers different settings for different purposes–not only for steaming or pressure boiling rice. We can use today’s rice cookers to stew meats, porridge, steaming eggs, and so on.
Before the existence of the electric rice cookers, Chinese people use pressure pot on a hob to cook the rice, and the rice cooker provides more safety and reliability than hob cooking.
14. Ginger Grater
Ginger is a very important ingredient in Chinese cuisine and for an authentic ginger taste, we’ll need to use the real’ ginger root rather than the powdered ginger. This is where a ginger grater is important to properly grate these ginger roots.
Some ginger grater models are multi-functional and we can use them to peel the other skin, slice the ginger, and finely grate the ginger. Modern ginger graters typically also feature a safety guard and a blade cover for safe storage.
A stockpot, as the name suggests, is used to make homemade stock which is used in various braised and stewed dishes, among other Chinese cuisines.
The stockpot is typically the largest utensil in a Chinese kitchen, and the smallest Chinese stockpot is usually 8-quart in size. However, usually, we’d need a 12-quart stockpot which is large enough to make around 1 liter of broth (remember that the ingredients that go into the broth would also take a lot of space).
16. Chinese Rolling Pin
The rolling pin is very important in making Chinese buns, but is also useful in kneading bread, making noodles, dumplings, and all kinds of cakes. There are various rolling pins with various length and thickness, and each of them has different uses. The Chinese rolling pins don’t feature handles (unlike tapered Western rolling pins), but it has similar functionality to Western rolling pins.
17. Cooking Chopsticks
Long cooking chopsticks are also called 筷子/cháng kuàizi or just kuàizi and is used to manipulate foods and ingredients during boiling or frying, but also to pick up cooked foods that are already cooked from a hot stew pot or wok. The cooking chopsticks are longer than the typical Chinese/Japanese eating chopsticks and can reach more than 12 inches (30+ centimeters) in length.
The cooking chopsticks are also a versatile utensil, and we can use it for other functions like mixing cake ingredients and beating eggs.
18. Porcelain Soup Spoon
The Chinese porcelain soup spoon is an essential utensil for enjoying various soup dishes and porridges, and like a clay pot, the porcelain material has an alkaline quality which can act as a natural sweetener and will enhance the flavor of the dish.
Also, the porcelain soup spoon is famous for having the perfect size for the Chinese wonton/dumpling. They are also designed to go well together with the traditional Chinese bowls, which we will discuss below.
19. Mortar and Pestle
The Asian-style mortar and pestle are used for grinding various ingredients, especially spices, herbs, and other foods. The typical mortar is around 3” tall with around 2” to 3” diameter, and the bowl is typically around 4” in diameter or length (depending on shape) with 2 or 3 ounces capacity. However, there are also larger and smaller options available, and the general rule of thumb is to choose the right size according to the quantity of the ingredients you’d need to grind.
Do you want to learn more about Chinese cuisine? Check out these cooking courses and books – Opens in new tab.
20. Hot Pot
The Chinese (or Mongolian) hot pot is a uniquely-shaped pot designed to hold the broth or water while maintaining the heat. There are various hot pot designs available like the one with a hole in the middle to allow steam to escape, and a split hot pot which allows us to serve two types of broth. The hot pot can also be made from various materials from clay to metal. (More Hot Pots)
Related reading: “Hot Pot: Unveiling the Interactive Charm of Chinese Fire Pot” – Opens in new tab
21. Stainless Steel Skimmer for Hot Pot
The skimmer spoon is made of stainless steel to avoid rust and is mainly used to remove foods from boiling broth or water while straining grease and foam from the food. The skimmer features a mesh design, allowing it to capture the food items without catching the boiling liquid.
22. Pressure Cooker
The pressure cooker is used for cooking foods with steam pressure, allowing us to cook food faster than various conventional cooking methods. Traditionally, pressure cookers use hob/hearth to create steam pressure, but nowadays, we have the option to use electric pressure cookers which are more convenient.
When using a pressure cooker, it’s important not to open the pressure cooker before the pressure has been completely released, which can be dangerous. However, newer pressure cookers have a safety measure where we can’t open the lid until you’ve released the pressure completely.
23. Wok Ring
Chinese cooking is famous for using the wok burner, which produces high-pressure, large flame to produce high instantaneous heat necessary for authentic Chinese stir-frying (producing what we know as the wok hei flavor.) However, even if we don’t have the wok burner, we can use a wok ring to allow the wok to properly sit on top of the existing stove/burner, preventing the wok from sliding around while you are stir-frying. The wok ring is especially useful if you have a cast iron or steel grate on your stove.
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