Five Essential Pieces of Cookware You'll Never Regret Buying
September 07, 20224 min read
As foodies and former chefs, we at Knifewear take our cookware very seriously, so we take an honest no-bullshit approach to kitchen gear. We only sell stuff we ourselves would use, and while we sell some pretty fancy stuff, we make sure everything we sell is worth what you’re paying for it.
I’m a strong skeptic of cooking gadgets, and I’m always on a crusade against kitchen clutter. Thus, I’ve picked out the essential kitchen tools that youactually need.We’re talking the bare minimum here, only the essentials and a couple of extras. It’s also stuff that will last you a lifetime and get used daily, so you’ll never regret buying it.
Kitchen Essential #1: A Good Chef’s Knife
First off, we have the good ol’ chef’s knife. You already knew I was gonna pick a knife; I work at a knife store! But a big part of cooking is turning big food into smaller food so you can cram it into your face. A quality chef’s knife will cut just about everything you need it to, have a super sharp, safe edge, and hold that edge for a long time. I like a 240mm gyuto, but many home cooks will likely want a smaller 210mm gyuto or santoku.
When choosing a knife, consider the size that feels comfortable to you and the maintenance level you’re okay with. Most folks have used a stainless steel kitchen knife before, but did you know some knives can rust? I like these ‘High-carbon steel’ knives because they tend to get sharper and stay that way longer, but they need to be kept dry to avoid rusting. If you’re not into that, stainless is the way to go!
Kitchen Essential #2: A Cutting Board
Next, you need something to cut on! Yes, you could cut on your counter, but you’ll dull your knife and destroy your work surface. Get yourself a sturdy wooden cutting board. Personally, I invested in an end-grain board from Larch for a few reasons: They last decades with proper care, they dull your knives way less than most other boards, and they’re super sexy. The name of the game is to buy stuff you won’t regret, so I suggest going big, so you have a lot of work surface. You don’t want to have to buy another one down the road!
Boards to avoid include glass, granite, bamboo, and composite wood boards. These dull your knives super quick. Typical side-grain wood like those from Tojiro Paulonia and Sticks & Boards can be more cost-effective but are much more prone to warping than end-grain boards to treat them with care. Plastic is easy on knives but gets gashed up and harbours bacteria. If you’re into plastic, get Hasegawa! They’re nice and soft and inhibit bacteria growth naturally.
Kitchen Essential #3: A Sturdy Frying Pan
Okay, you’ve cut up your food - time to cook it! A solid saute pan is the one tool I use as much as my kitchen knives, but I stay away from non-stick. Two reasons: metal utensils destroy nonstick pans and can’t handle high temperatures well. Carbon steel and cast iron both possess non-stick properties when used correctly, last forever and look badass living on your stove! A large pan can stir fry, sear steaks, roast veggies, and even bake a pie! Carbon steel and cast iron require seasoning, but they’re pretty easy to maintain with little practice.
Kirameki pans are my personal favourite, they’re reasonably lightweight, come pre-seasoned and are super easy to upkeep. Prince Kogyo also make some pans that are both beautiful, and perform quite well, just keep that wooden handle out of the over! Check out the West Japan Tools frying pan if you want to go nuts. It’s one of the most remarkable pieces of cookware I’ve ever used.
Kitchen Essential #4: A Pot!
That covers your dry foods, but what about the wet stuff? Grab yourself a basic pot. They’ll do everything a pan doesn’t, like boiling taters, noodles, soups, and more! These thin Yukihara pots are super pretty and work great if you’re cooking for one or two people, and they boil super fast! If you’re a fan of big-batch cooking, you’ll want to snag a larger stock pot or dutch oven.
Kitchen Essential #5: Cooking Utensils
After that, you just need two or three reliable utensils to handle your food when you’re cooking it! These are my three: A metal spatula for eggs, grilled cheese, etc. A sturdy pair of tongs for flipping steaks and veg - I prefer these chef’s tweezers; they feel like an extension of your hand. Finally, some sort of soft silicone spoon or spatula for scraping up sauces and other runny stuff. With these seven pieces of gear, I’m confident I can cook almost any dish!
Now, I have more gear than this. I find a Microplane very handy for finely grating garlic, cheese, and spices. My fancy chef’s spoon gets used for tasting, plating, and stirring mac and cheese. I even use these chef’s presses, which verge on cooking gadget, for weighing meat down in brine and pressing things on the grill! You can flesh out your collection based on what you cook but focus on the essentials you’ll use every time you cook.
There you have it: no vacuum sealer, banana peeler, or microwave egg poacher. Sure, some of those tools are handy, but you don’t need anything fancy to cook delicious food. Focus on learning to use a few quality tools well, and you’re cooking will improve in no time.
Nathan started at Knifewear in 2013, when he left the restaurant industry to slang knives. Nowadays, he handles our communications, social media, and YouTube channel. If you're reading words on this website or watching one of our videos, Nathan was involved. He spends his spare time growing food, cooking, fermenting food and booze, and enjoying the great outdoors.