Who doesn’t like buying new kitchen gadgets? I’m always looking for new (to me) cooking methods which are a great excuse to buy a new kitchen gadget. Over the last two and a half years I’ve slowly added 3 kitchen gadgets that have completely changed the way I cook. These are all tools that some of my friends and chef people I know have been using for years. If you’re new to the kitchen or live in a small space these 3 devices could seriously up your chef game.
1. Sous Vide Stick
The first kitchen gadget that I added was a sous vide device. Sous Vide is something that commercial kitchens have been using for a long time. Cooking food in constant temperature water baths creates an even, consistent cook, time and time again. About 7 years ago a company called Anova released the first home kitchen sous vide unit.
All home kitchen sous vide machines have copied the premise of the Anova. They’re a stick that you immerse in water, that then heats the water to the specified temperature and keeps it at that temperature for as long as you want. They all have fancy Bluetooth or wifi features to allow you to set your timers and temperatures precisely. Some even let you do things like delayed starts using ice baths. All you need is a big container you can fill with water, zip lock bags or a food-grade vacuum sealer and you’re good to go.
Sous vide steak was what got me interested in this cooking technique. I had followed the media surrounding the Anova product quite closely. I finally bought one about 3 years ago. It has cooked more meals than I can remember. I first started using it to cook the perfect steak and other meat products. In the last 6 months, my focus has been on a more plant-based diet. This has led me to try new recipes. My favourite is mashed potato. If you haven’t ever had sous vide mashed potatoes you don’t know what you’re missing. I’ll post that recipe one of these days.
This is by far the coolest kitchen gadget that I had ever purchased and for the price. It’s hard to go wrong. The only downside is that the cooking times are measured in the hours. This means you need to prepare everything ahead of time. For a couple of hundred dollars, you can get restaurant-quality food right in your home kitchen. I cannot recommend this device enough. You should also check out the YouTube channel Sous Vide Everything. He does some crazy experiments but also has some great recipes to try.
2. Pressure Cooker
After a couple of years of sous vide the world, I added a pressure cooker to my kitchen gadget arsenal. Pressure cookers have been around for a long time. As in invented in 1679 a long time, but they didn’t move into kitchens until WWII. As the saying goes. Necessity is the mother of invention. Pressure cookers are a simple device that can either be stovetop or benchtop. The way it works is that it uses a sealed container and steam to quickly cook whatever you put in there. Pressure cookers are great and tenderising tough cuts of meat which is how they came to use during the war. They can easily make an average cut soft and flaky.
I’d seen them used on cooking shows, on websites and friends use them but I never bothered to investigate. On one of my many Youtube watching rabbit holes, a home cook was outlining the benefits of using a pressure cooker to cook lamb shanks in less than an hour. This piqued my interests and so started my research.
After a couple of hours of reading and watching videos, I thought to myself, where the hell have pressure cookers been all my life? I headed straight down to the local kitchen appliance market here in Ho Chi Minh City and bought one. I picked up a benchtop unit for $35. If it doesn’t work, it’s only $35 right?
I decided to try and make the lamb shanks recipe in the unit first and it turned out awesome. It did require double the prescribed time of the recipe. I think that’s because I bought the cheapest unit known to man. I then spent the next couple of weeks perfecting my Bó Kho (Vietnamese beef stew) recipe.
There are so many things you can cook in pressure cookers. People usually use them to reduce the cooking time of foods that would usually take hours to complete. Here are some things I have cooked in mine.
- Lamb shanks
- Brown Rice (much quicker this way)
- Lentil soup
- BBQ Ribs
- Mashed potato
- Stock, I make a lot of stock using my pressure cooker
If you haven’t cooked with a pressure cooker you should give it a go. They’re relatively cheap, easy to use and best of all, set and forget (mostly). I’m surprised at how consistent the results have been. A few friends I’ve had over for dinner have been equally impressed.
3. Air Fryer
My most recent kitchen gadget acquisition is my new Air Fryer. I’m going to preface this with yes, I know it’s not frying anything! I’m just using the gadgets name. I didn’t come up with it. So for all the chefs out there that have something to say, we know. An air fryer, in reality, is just a small benchtop kitchen oven. It uses superheated air to cook things quickly and evenly. It’s kind of crazy, how evenly it cooks things.
This is another kitchen gadget that I had seen and forgotten about. I remember a guy I used to know bought one and then air fried potatoes on a daily basis resulting in some huge gains, to his waist. I’m pretty sure that’s what put me off looking to get one myself. That and pretty much every house I had lived in had an oven. Ovens aren’t common in Asia and although I do have one, it heats up the whole apartment which just discourages me using it. Unless I’m going in for a long cook I try to avoid using my oven.
I follow the Pro Home Cooks channel on Youtube and a recent video he posted was pretty much why I went out and bought an air fryer the next day. The fact that he could make so many different kinds of foods in that one device blew my mind. I tried the chicken wings recipe, the roast potato and a few others from that one video. I’ve since made entire meals in the thing. For our 2019/2020 new years eve dinner, I made half of the roast lamb loin and pavola dessert in the air fryer. I even took it over to my buddies house to cook chicken wings and dessert for Christmas day lunch.
An air fryer is a kitchen gadget that I think everyone should consider. You can quickly make dinner for 4-6 people in it. You don’t need to have a huge oven on for hours as it cooks things quicker. I’m not sure what the rules are in university dorms or employee housing but this should be seriously considered.
These 3 kitchen gadgets have completely changed how I cook. It’s also motivated me to cook more as I have these cool gadgets and I don’t want them to go to waste. My next challenge is I’m going to try and use all three to prepare a meal and post the results. I’ve used 2 of the three when I made the NYE dinner but I didn’t use the pressure cooker. Next time I’ll use all of them. It’s interesting that 2 of the devices speed up cooking while the other relies on slow consistent cooking.