OK, so I've got a few special favorites in my cooking implements lineup...
Disposable chopsticks -- I buy these 100 pair at a time from the oriental store for about a buck, and I keep a jar full of them next to the stovetop. It's really easy to just grab a pair for tasting, as chopsticks don't lend themselves to double-dipping problems as badly as spoons (at least if you don't lick them...), and they're cheap enough that I can use them for one dish and chuck them, saving on dishes as well.
Spring-loaded tongs -- I've got several pair of these, and I use them A LOT. Really handy gadgets.
Kiwi brand paring knives -- They've got an asian shape to the blade that took a bit of getting used to, but they're made of good stainless steel, they keep an edge remarkably well, and they only cost $1.45 each at the oriental store. I've got about 6 of them now. Nice to have multiples, so you always have a clean one on hand, and they make darn nice steak knives too.
Omelette skillet -- I've got an 8" Mirro nonstick skillet that's used *ONLY* for omelettes. It's just big enough for a 3-egg omelette, and by using it only for omelettes, I can keep the nonstick coating in good shape longer, avoiding sticking. I also use it for chupaquesos.
Restaurant quality whisks -- Amazing that you can get a *REALLY* nice 14" whisk for less than $5 at a restaurant supply place... They're stainless steel, nice big handle for my ogre-size hands, and totally closed off so water can't get in to muck them up. And the handle's perfectly round, so I can spin it between my palms easily. I've got one stiff French whisk and one springy piano wire whisk.
Woks -- Yeah, since I'm a fan of Chinese cooking, I've stocked up on woks. Plain old steel woks from the oriental store, I've got a 13", a 16", and a monster 26" (more about that later). I've never had a problem with rust, and they're really easy to clean. Just a dash of hot water, scrub briskly with stainless steel wool, dry, and oil lightly. If you keep them seasoned like that, and don't use soap on them, they're pretty resistant to sticking, although starchy stuff like potatoes and rice always tend to stick.
Monster Wok -- Yeah, so I got this 26" monster wok at the oriental store, the owner had it for like 3 years... Apparently a restaurant had ordered three of them and only bought two, so he was looking to unload it cheap. I paid $30. Usually a wok this size is about $75. Of course, I had to buy a BIG spatula for $8 to fit my BIG wok...
But here's the bad news... A regular stovetop, even a gas cooktop, doesn't put out enough heat to do much of anything in this monster. So, I went out and bought a turkey fryer for $55, and paid a machine shop $30 to fit a ring on the top of the burner to support the wok. 75,000 BTU's of heat is *PLENTY* even for this beast.
But, the fryer had been designed for the older style propane tanks, not the new ones with the OPD valve. The OPD valve will shut off the gas flow if there's not enough backpressure when you open the tank valve. So, I had to go spend another $11 at AmeriGas on a ball valve that sits at the burner end of the hose. I have to close the ball valve, open the tank valve, sneak open the ball valve a little, light the burner, and then open the ball valve all the way. *SIGH* The things we do for our art... I still think it's worth the money. Besides, I also have what amounts to a gigantic stock pot in which I can cook not only turkey but soups and stocks and chili and and and...
Anyway, I really like the monster wok. It's great for cooking HUGE batches of fried rice and even bigger batches of stir fry. I estimate that I can cook about 10 cups of fried rice at a whack. I ran a 5 cup batch the other day, it turned out nicely, but barely filled the bottom of the monster wok. I'll be giving it a full run in a couple weeks when we have the water garden society meeting (and potluck) at our place. I'm definitely looking forward to it.
_________________Fandemonium 2010 -- No Boundaries.http://www.fandemonium.org
Friday - Sunday, August 6th - 8th, 2010
Nampa Civic Center - Nampa, Idaho (Only 20 minutes from the airport!)(Idaho: It ain't just potatoes anymore.)