Cooking gear

Discussion in 'Food and Drink' started by fraggler, Sep 11, 2018.

  1. fraggler

    fraggler A Happy & Busy Life

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    My GF and I are thinking about new cooking wares since we are building a new kitchen. I am a barely passable cook who loves cool gear. My GF is a fantastic cook (mostly Asian and baking) who could care less about what she uses (though she will admit she likes my Shun knives). We currently have an old set of Calphalon Contemporary pots and pans which we like but nearly all the non-stick coatings are getting rough and need replacing.

    Any recommendations for basic sets around the $300 mark? We use gas to cook and generally like non-stick for ease of cooking (less oil or butter) and cleaning, but are open to recommendations.

    Also, any recommendations for for a good wok?
     
  2. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    For non-stick I like Tefal. That being said I'm pretty much all cast iron and stainless steel.

    For best value try to find a restaurant supply store. If you can find a Costco Business center I recommend you go there.

    When it comes to cooking implements, go to an Asian place and get bamboo utensils. Cheap and it doesn't scratch up anything. I only use metal when I grill. Chopsticks are honestly the best cooking utensils ever invented and I use them all the time for non-asian food.

    Something worth looking at is enameled cast iron if you want non-stick. I have an enameled cast-iron pan from a Korean store and nothing sticks to it. It can get really expensive with brands like Le Creuset.
     
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  3. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    second the cast iron and stainless steel. we avoid non-stick coatings that eventually degrade and can be ingested.
    butter or rendered fat isn't always bad. ;)

    one fun piece to look for, a Moroccan tagine!
    makes the best slow simmer veggies and meats.
    +
    splurge for one copper core stainless steel frypan, an excellent all around item that will last a lifetime.
     
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  4. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    That's the one piece of stoneware I have. I'd like to get a few more pieces.
     
  5. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Take a punt on a serviceable but inexpensive cast iron frying or griddle pan, and read up how to season/clean it. It seems like a faff, but it's totally worth it. You won't want to go back to fragile and unreliable non-stick stuff once you have the hang of using it. Learn to live with it, it'll last a lifetime. People pass pans like that down as heirlooms.

    Start small with one inexpensive piece to play with, low risk. The potential rewards, on the other hand..

    (Oh, and properly seasoned cast iron is blissfully non-stick.)
     
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  6. EeePee

    EeePee Acquaintance

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    Lodge brand cast iron is okay.
     
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  7. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    My folks have a tendency to destroy all their non-stick pans because they get impatient (especially mom) and crank everything onto high. Either the pans warp or the coating scratches off eventually. I got them a cast iron one a while ago, but it's too heavy for them, and it scratches the induction stovetop they have now.

    Is it worth trying to find a decent quality one for them to use? Or do I just throw in the towel and keep buying $20 pans that they can destroy yearly?
     
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  8. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Took ages for me to get used to non-stick pans, but in my experience even decent sets will eventually lose their coating if exposed to even slightly too-high temperatures. I'm a fan of cast iron myself since you can get amazing sears on em, but they can be a bit of a pain to clean, especially where rust's involved.

    My mum was looking at lighter cast iron stuff that'd be easier to wield (edited: I keep misspelling that word for some reason) and think she's settled on getting Field stuff: https://fieldcompany.com/. Not sure, have to go ask her to confirm, but I think this is what she was eyeing at the mall the other week. I just checked for reviews online and it seems like it has a bit of a sticking problem that doesn't go away even after some breaking-in. Otherwise looks like it'd pass muster for tolerating high temps and not outweighing a sledgehammer.
     
  9. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    Another great option versus cast iron is carbon steel. I frigging LOVE my de Buyer carbon steel pans - just make sure you get the Mineral "B" line if it's to be used with induction. They are about half the weight of cast iron, are smooth surfaced so will not scratch Ceran tops, and have the same heat retention and browning/searing properties as cast. Of course you are still needing to understand how to maintain a patina, so no metal utensils and no acidic foods.

    Looking back I'd get a couple carbon steel pans and one good non-stick (Le Creuset etc.) and care for them properly - again, no metal utensils andthey'll last forever.

    A soup pot (24cm or so) with steamer insert and a big pasta pot for pasta and stock.

    DON'T BUY A SET...of either cookware or knives. Buy the best example of the thing you need that you can afford and collect great cookware gradually.
     
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  10. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Silicone is good --- and I have only just caught up with that!
    Maybe, one day, the latest miracle coating will have life-time staying power. Still waiting for that... and considering those coatings not really necessary anyway as per...
    Well, exactly. And take a worst-case incident, because it happens occasionally to most of us: "Smoke? I smell smoke? Oh SHIT!" A couple of my stainless-steel pans have suffered burnt-on food or even flames over the decades. In this kind of a pan, it is just a tough cleaning job and back to use. Non stick? Probably not even supposed to use tough scourers. Pans should last a lifetime. Several lifetimes.
    Read that as weld: imagined your mum with the oxy-acetaline torch. Thought... you must have in interesting mum :D
    I think that my non-stainless frying pan is just mild steel. Not sure. Cheap, unbranded, but still last-for-ever and cook well. Even if abused and allowed to rust they can still be restored. Yes, I admit it!

    For real beginners, I suppose sets are ok. A set of three or four pans is a good start. But knives less so, because one or two will do 90% of the work, so why not invest in them rather than the mostly unused set.
     
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  11. ButtUglyJeff

    ButtUglyJeff Stunningly beautiful IRL

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    I have a couple carbon steel pans. You season them a lot like cast iron, but weigh very little comparably. And they're not pricey. A good 12" is only about $60. Best crepes ever...
     
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  12. ButtUglyJeff

    ButtUglyJeff Stunningly beautiful IRL

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    Have you ever taken a palm sander to your Lodge fry pan? I now have a very glassy seasoning because all the pores have been smoothed over. It was one of those youtube things I didn't believe, then I tried it and wow...
     
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  13. ButtUglyJeff

    ButtUglyJeff Stunningly beautiful IRL

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    I'm going to make a pricey recommendation, so put this on the back burner for a later purchase (see what I did there). I recently treated myself to a Le Creuset 7 1/4 quart enameled cast iron quart dutch oven. This thing is a game changer. The light interior makes it super easy to see what's going on inside, and you can do all kinds of cooking in it. I even bake bread in it now...

    I wish I found out about these sooner.
     
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  14. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    This shouldn't really ever be an issue. Proper care will prevent it rusting. Clean it while it's still warm (NOT with cold water, in case you crack it). Then give it some heat to dry it out, never leave it damp and let it air dry. It's way easier than it sounds.

    If you've had to go for it with a small amount of soap to clean it up, you can always gently wipe it down with a little oil after drying, and optionally give it a bit more heat. You can also periodically "re-season" by oiling it and popping it in a 180degC over for an hour or similar. People on the interpipes probably have more and better info than me though, there's a whole cult of cast iron, look out for that rabbithole.

    However, basic care and maintenance is really easy once you're used to it. The natural non-stick nature, incredibly even cooking and amped-up Maillard reaction will repay the small amount of faff many times over. Cooking should be enjoyable, whatever your skill level.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Thanks for the tips @Kattefjaes! Yeah, guess I'm a bit of a caveman when it comes to cooking, not in the sense that I don't try for more than standard fare but that I'm a barbarian with tools.

    And yet I'm all gung-ho about DIYing stuff.... hah.

    I honestly hadn't spared much thought for the temperature of the water we use when washing pots and pans and tableware— unless we bottle some water to heat up (or cool down) as needed, what comes out of the tap is what we're stuck with. Should probably look into temperature control. The pans all get regular rotation so I'm not too worried about seasoning them, but I'll take one as a guinea pig and see how it holds up. Grazie! :)

    Forgot to reply earlier:
    @Thad E Ginathom Oh trust me, her tongue gets hot enough that she could smelt tungsten after a couple tirades :p

    And how the fajitas have I never heard of carbon steel pans before now. Might convince the mum to forego the Field stuff and have a gander at those instead. This thread is great!
     
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  16. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

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    Maybe this can become a general cooking gear thread.

    i’m currently staying in a furnished duplex until we can get back into Asia. Went to grab a knife from the knife block set and it was serrated (very small serrations like some Cutco knives I’ve seen). Ugh.. the entire set of knives in the block was serrated! What the heck? Cutting a chicken breast cleanly is impossible..it was like a wrestling match where I just barely defeated chicken meat. Ordered some cheap Kiwi knives for my own sanity and for the sanity of future residents. Was tempted to go with something nice but I have some decent knives back home already.

    I once got a couple of Kai Wasabi prep and paring knives from Dirt Cheap (a closeout chain) for $4 each, that was the best knife deal I’ve ever seen. Went back there but they had nothing this time,
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
  17. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    I guess it's easier in your situation, to buy a set for temporary use --- but you could have probably got by on two or three individuals. Out of my collection, one gets used 95% of the time. And most of them have been impulse purchases I could live without.
     
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  18. fraggler

    fraggler A Happy & Busy Life

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    Thanks for resurrecting this. I forgot I started it, lol.

    I ended up with an inexpensive Tramontina 3 ply stainless set (budget winner on a couple websites), with a Lodge cast iron skillet, and an Asian sized carbon steel wok. Still using my Shun knives that I bought over a decade ago. The Tramontina set has exceeded expectations - even cooking, zero warping. Not the fanciest looking or nicest feeling, but compared to anything short of All-clad, it holds it's own. My GF uses the wok quite a bit since we eat fairly Asian most of the time. The cast iron is a pretty known quantity and we use it when we need to cook slabs of meat.

    Not sure what is next, maybe some sort of utility knife for breads and smooth skinned fruits/veggies.
     
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  19. monacelli

    monacelli Friend

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    It sounds like you're all set, but if you feel like you want something a step up from the Kiwi knives that won't break the bank, I would consider this one ($50): https://www.chefknivestogo.com/fucunagy21.html

    Mark from Chef Knives To Go is a super nice guy. They are based in Wisconsin and import all kinds of cool stuff, and they often collaborate with manufacturers on custom knives. I've ordered from them multiple times and had good experiences.

    I am the same way. I have a decent selection of knives, but 99% of my prep is spent with just one [this guy].
     
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  20. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

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    I’m familiar with the brand and the website. I’ve been eyeing some fuji and tojiro knives and may pick one up in the future. Was mainly looking for something that I would leave here.
     
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