What cooking utensils will you need for Dominican cooking, and for cooking in general? Let me give you a short list of basic kitchen utensils and tools.
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Cooking shouldn't require a lot of gadgets or expensive stuff, but there's some basic kitchen equipment that you should have to make ours and any recipes and some items that make our life easier. We tell you which is which in our basic kitchen utensils list.
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Basic kitchen utensils and their uses
This, right here, is the first thing you have to acquire if you ever want to cook with recipes. Cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons are not only part of a cutlery set they are also standard measures. These measuring standards are used in virtually every recipe. Regular cutlery ones are not suitable for measuring, so don't even try. The set linked above is the one I have and love (you can see it at the picture at the very top). It's very durable, machine-washable and will last for years and years.
Much as I try to not use weights in our recipes, it's impossible to avoid it, and in some cases, like baking, it is vital to use a scale. Volume measuring (spoons, cups, etc.) are much too inexact in some cases. This doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on a scale. You can find good, inexpensive scales nowadays that do the job well and last for years. I have a similar model from this same brand and it has lasted me for years (you can see it at the picture at the very top).
Some Dominican dishes (like rice recipes) cannot be cooked in just any pot. You need thick-bottom pots to get a cook, crispy concón. And for braising nothing beats cast iron, or failing that, cast aluminum pots. I own both types, but I do prefer cast iron---although I concede that these may be much too expensive for some budgets. I have built my collection of cast iron pots and pans over years (I started with this basic set, which you can see in some of my pictures), but I never got rid of my aluminum pots (I have the same in the picture above).
Buy at least 3 sizes for rice, meats, and soups.
A wooden mortar and pestle can probably be chosen as the symbol of Dominican cooking. It's where our flavors start: mashing and crushing, garlic, peppers and herbs, our quintessential sazón.
Dominican cuisine would be so much poorer without our many fruit shakes, so yes, I strongly advise you acquire a blender. This model has the advantage that is strong enough to make Dominican sazones and sofritos. It's best to buy a powerful blender, even if it costs a little bit of money, it'll pay for itself in the long run.
Technically, you don't need a pressure cooker, but if you are cooking Dominican food, it'll make your life a whole lot easier. There are good reasons why they're so common in the Dominican Republic: We cook our beans from scratch, which means long boiling times, and we use our pressure cookers to tenderize inexpensive cuts of meat or to make stews. A pressure cooker significantly reduces cooking time. For example, boiling dry beans can take up to an hour in a conventional pot it'll be a mere 15 minutes in a pressure cooker.
If you are going to be baking, you need to buy the right stuff. This set here includes practically everything you'll need to get your baking going: cake, bread, casserole, and cupcakes molds plus one baking sheet. It really is great, and made by a great, trusted brand. It's also fairly inexpensive. I would also suggest that you add a springform pan to your collection, I have this same one and absolutely love it. It is completely nonstick and very easy to clean. Springform pans are great for baking cheesecakes, and some pastelones.
If you are a casual cook, or can't afford expensive cooking utensils right now, there are many good brands that offer good knives that with proper care will give years of good service (like the ones linked above). Same with cutting boards. But if you are serious about cooking, and have the money for it, start with great knives and cutting boards I have those, and they are worth every penny
Other basic utensils used in the kitchen
- Spatulas: You'll need them for baking recipes.
- Frying pans: Preferably non-stick so you can fry or pan-fry in them.
- Skewers: For pinchos, better if made of stainless steel.
- Cooking spoons set: An absolute basic in the kitchen.
- 4-sided grater: Preferably made of stainless steel so you can make arepitas y arañitas.
- Colander: To drain pasta and vegetables.
- Mixing bowls set: A useful all-around item, especially for baking.
- Meat mallet: Useful for tenderizing, and used in some of our recipes.
- Can opener and potato peeler: I've had mine from this brand for decades, they make life so much easier.