There are not a lot of kitchen tools that are specific to cooking Indonesian dishes, but there are indeed some specialized tools required to make a certain recipe, though many of these specialized tools can be hard to find outside Indonesia. The list of kitchen tools in this page are what I personally use in my kitchen, and most will be generic enough to be used to prepare many non Indonesian recipes as well.
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If I am allowed only one kitchen gadget to sit on my kitchen counter, rice cooker will be the clear winner. I cook white rice all the time, it is our staple food, and we have it every lunch and dinner, sometimes even for breakfast! The one I have been using since last year is Aroma and it has been doing a pretty good job at a good price.
I started this blog in 2013 and I was living in Indonesia then. The rice cooker I had was a Panasonic with a much bigger capacity than the Aroma I currently own. I couldn’t find the particular model I used, but the two models from Tiger and Zojirushi below are very close in look and functionality. All my rice cooker cakes were experimented on this type of rice cooker, so if you are wondering whether or not your rice cooker is similar enough to replicate those rice cooker cakes recipes, please compare these two to the one you have at home. Since Indonesia uses different voltages and carrying one big rice cooker was not exactly an option when we were moving to a different continent, I left mine with my in-laws. These kind of rice cookers have very good life span, I used mine for 6 years and my in-laws said it looked pretty brand new when I handed them mine.
If you eat rice regularly like I do, you may want to buy a rice washing bowl. You can use it for washing fruits and vegetables too, not just for rice.
You cannot not have a wok if you want to cook Indonesian dishes, or most South East and East Asian dishes, especially when it comes to stir frying, which is a lot! A good wok is the one made from carbon steel, never non-stick. Treat your wok like your cast iron skillet and it will love you forever. You don’t have to buy the super expensive one, a basic cast iron wok with lid like the one from Joyce Chen is more than serviceable for everyday use.
Tips: Season your wok before using it. A wok can be used to steam food, but it is best to use it after going through several stir frying jobs before using it for steaming.
Cooking Indonesian dishes, sooner or later you will encounter recipes calling for the use of a steamer. Most Indonesian households have a metal steamers like this at home. Personally I like this better than the more ubiquitous bamboo steamers since I can really clean and make sure my steamers are hygienic.
For a small steaming job, I simply place a metal steamer rack in my wok, very handy to have when I don’t want to pull out the big metal steamers. And if you steam a lot, do your hands a favor and get yourself a pair of tongs to grab hot plate/bowl from your steamer. You don’t want to end up with a third degree burn every time you try lifting a hot plate from your steamer, do you?
- Joyce Chen 6 Quart 3 Tiers Metal Steamers
- 7 Inch Steaming Rack Stand
- Rimobul Stainless Steel Plate Retriever Tongs
I don’t know about you, but I think a kitchen scale is an important tool to have in a kitchen. When cooking savory dishes, sometimes I wing it and just roughly guesstimate the weight of my ingredients and chances are they will come out alright, but I am less incline to take chances when it comes to making desserts. Be warned thought that winging it while you are a still a novice cook might be pretty disastrous, so get one if you plan on cooking regularly. If you are thinking of getting a new kitchen scale, this one from Ozeri is what I am using right now.
Browsing through my Indonesian recipes, you will soon notice that for most of the recipes, you will need to grind some of the ingredients into a paste. Traditionally, we use mortar and pestle to do this, lovingly called a cobek. You can still use that, but for convenience sake, I use this mini food processor from Cuisinart almost exclusively to make my spice paste.
Some exceptions where I prefer to use the traditional cobek is when making sambal. There is simply no comparison between sambal made with a cobek and one without, sambal made with a cobek just tastes so much better.
A good kitchen knife is all you need for all your chopping needs. With a good and regular maintenance from honing and sharpening, a good knife can and should lasts forever. I currently own a Global chef knife which I bought in 2008, it is still working as expected, and unless I somehow managed to lose it I don’t think I need a new one in a foreseeable future.
As for the knife sharpener, I own a Minosharp which is designed to work with Global knives. If you have a different brand knife, you may need to research which sharpener works best for yours.
For honing rod, I prefer one made with ceramic instead of traditional steel. Global has their own line of ceramic rods, but I honestly think a much cheaper one from Messermeister performs marvelously, so far I have nothing to complain and still am a happy customer.
- Global G2 8-inch Chef Knife
- Minosharp Water Wheel Sharperner
- Messermeister Ceramic Rod Knife Sharpener
For_ cendol_ lovers who want to make their own at home, a cendol press is an indispensable tool. Although you can buy one from Amazon, you can actually use a good ole potato ricer to do this since it is much cheaper and they are pretty much the same thing in principle, and if you already have one at home, try using that. Choose potato ricer that comes with multiple discs and you will want to use the disc with the biggest holes to press out cendol. The upside with a potato ricer is if you decided not to make your own cendol anymore (how could you!), you can still use it to make mashed potato, which was the original intent of the tool.
Cast Iron Skillet (a.k.a. Hacked Martabak Pan)
Do you know that a good cast iron skillet is the best non-stick pan you can own? By investing a little bit of time to learn how to properly take a good care of a cast iron skillet, you will never ever need to buy another non-stick pan again! A good side effect in owning a cast iron skillet for Indonesian food lovers is the ability to make martabak manis, also known as terang bulan in some places. Most people make martabak manis with a non-stick pan, but I found that making one with a cast iron skillet tastes better and is much closer to those sold in Indonesian side street stalls.
Aebleskiver Pan (a.k.a. Hacked Serabi Pan)
Serabi is a pancake-like Indonesian street food,except we don’t flip it and just cook one side of the pancake, and is a very popular snack throughout Indonesia, . If you try to look for a serabi pan outside of Indonesia, it will be a a futile exercise, I know since I have tried. But fear not my friends, you can use aebleskiver pan to make serabi! In fact, you can also make many other Indonesian snacks with this, like kue lumpur and kue cubit, though I think the smaller diameter holes of a takoyaki pan are better suited for kue cubit. These two aebleskiver pans from Norpro are pretty good choice. The first one is for gas stove, while the second one is for non gas stove owners.
Takoyaki Pan (a.k.a. Hacked Kue Cubit Pan)
If you are a serious kue cubit lover that happens to be Japanese takoyaki lover and Dutch poffertjes lover at the same time, then investing in a good takoyaki pan is well worth it. This takoyaki pan from Iwatani is a good one, but it doesn’t work if you don’t have a gas stove.
You can also get an electric takoyaki pan if your prefer. This is really good if you want to have a takoyaki party straight on your dining table, so everyone get to try having fun making their own food.
Technically, you can make kue cubit, takoyaki, and poffertjes with an aebleskiver pan instead of a takoyaki pan. Just be aware that the holes diameter of an aebleskiver pan is around 2” while they are around 1” for a takoyaki pan. You may think that it is not a whole lot of different, but of course we are talking volume here, so if my Math skill doesn’t fail me, treats made with an aebleskiver pan will be 8 times bigger than treats made with a takoyaki pan! If I have to choose between an aebleskiver pan and a takoyaki pan, I would choose a takoyaki pan. Why? Because I do love kue cubit, poffertjes, and takoyaki! Plus, I don’t mind munching on mini sized kue lumpur and serabi.