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The first tenant of cooking? Use the right tool for the job! While nobody needs a drawer full of gadgets they’ll use once a year (we’re looking at you, banana slicer), there are a few indispensable kitchen tools that do double or triple duty and deserve a place in your arsenal.
Here’s our A-list of kitchen tools.
1. Manual knife sharpener
The math is simple: dull knives are more dangerous than sharp ones. With a dull blade, you’ll struggle to cut through foods and will be more likely to slip and cut yourself – and the cuts will be more gnarly.
While we recommend getting your knives professionally sharpened from time to time, investing in a good knife sharpener can help keep your knives sharp day to day. There are electric brands out there, but with space and budget in mind, we prefer a manual diamond grit sharpener like this inexpensive one. It’s sturdy, skid-free and the 3-slot design means you get perfect results with Western chef’s knives, serrated knives and Asian-style one-sided blades every time.
2. Mini food processor
A food processor is a must-have in any kitchen. Yet you don’t need to rely on a full-size machine in order to get all the functionality of a food processor. Opt for a mini model, and you’ll save space without sacrificing.
What can’t a pint-sized processor do? From making ginger puree for stir-fries to whipping up chimichurri and chopping nuts, a small food processor is easier to haul out of the cupboard than a full-size processor, and it makes chopping and pureeing small amounts of ingredients a breeze.
3. Fish bone pliers
We all should be eating more fish, but no one enjoys coming across fish bones while eating. A pair of easy-to-use tweezers will effectively pull pin bones out of salmon and other raw fish fillets without marring the flesh. You’ll have an easier time prepping fish and will be more successful at catching every last little bone.
Fish bone pliers are also handy for extracting lemon seeds from juice, picking out feathers in poultry, and plucking your eyebrows (just kidding about the last one!).
An inexpensive skimmer, or a “spider” as it’s known in pro kitchens, is basically a fine-mesh sieve on a long bamboo handle. It’s an indispensable kitchen tool for fishing veggies and seafood out of boiling water, transferring solids out of soups and broths, and retrieving dumplings and pasta from cooking liquid.
You can look for inexpensive skimmers at Asian markets and online. The attractive, compact design means you can keep it in your utensil crock on the counter. You’ll no longer have to hunt for a sieve or slotted spoon at the last minute!
5. Julienne peeler
We love spiralizers, but they can take up a lot of space. If you don’t have the room for one, try a small julienne peeler, which you’ll find at Asian markets and kitchenware shops.
This inexpensive device looks like a little rake on a vegetable peeler handle and it makes delicate julienne strips of fruits and veggies without any fear of cutting yourself. It’s great for beets, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, and even making shreds for Thai green papaya salad.
6. Joyce Chen small kitchen scissors
The diminutive size of a pair of Joyce Chen Original Unlimited Scissors makes them a must for tasks like deveining shrimp (just clip down the back of shell-on shrimp and rinsing away the shell and black vein is a breeze) and snipping herbs. They’re perfect for other delicate kitchen cutting tasks too.
The best feature of these little scissors? They stay sharp for years. Look for them at kitchen shops and online.
7. Bench scraper with ruler
Bakers use these flat stainless steel scrapers to measure, cut and pick up dough from their work benches, thus the name. They’re also great for scooping up veggies off of your cutting board and can be used to pry dried up dough and other gunk off countertops. They also cut homemade energy bars into neat squares for perfect sized servings.
As you’re shopping for a bench scraper of your own, opt for one with a ruler printed on it. This will allow you to double check thickness when rolling out dough and measure cut veggies when precision matters.