5 Asian kitchen staples that will elevate your cooking game

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For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, In The Know’s Holly Wang curated five of her favorite Asian cooking staples (all while enjoying some hot pot).

1. Chinese cleaver 

“I swear to Awkwafina that every single Chinese household has one of these. If you’re Chinese and you don’t, I need to talk to you,” Holly joked. 

Wang called up her mom who pretty much straight up roasted anyone who uses small knives in Cantonese. 

“These small knives are for kids like you! I don’t like small knives. I like cleavers because they are easier to use and save more strength when you chop,” Mrs. Wang said. 

2. Hot Pot with a divider 

“This hot pot with a divider is for all the adventurous foodies out there who just can’t get enough of those ‘one-pot pasta’ kind of thing,” she explained.

According to Holly, you can create a five-course meal with this single pot. She recommended combos like hot pot and bubble tea, pasta and wine, salad and cucumber-infused water and finally, chips and salsa with tequila. 

“In all seriousness, in Japan, it can be used for shabu shabu and in China it can be used for huo guo,” Holly said. “Having this divider in the middle is for you to have two flavors at once. If you’re a rebel, you can get super creative with this. If you’re a lazy a** like me, it’s just easy.” 

3. Luffa sponge

A luffa sponge isn’t just great for washing dishes, it’s also a champ in the bathroom. 

“My parents literally packed me 10 of these — not exaggerating — when I moved to New York,” she said. “They still mail me some every once in a while as if we don’t have Chinatown and Flushing. You can use it to exfoliate your skin, clean your body and your soul. Yes, you need this for your precious soul, you sinful creature.”

4. Waste cooking oil powder 

When there’s hard-to-remove oil left in your dirty dishes, try this Japanese oil hardener. 

“You can solidify your oil with this powder, which can be commonly found in Japan,” Holly said. “We’re going to add the powder into the oil. Let it sit and wait till it’s solidified. And then you can throw the hardened cooking oil into your trash can, instead of dumping it in your sink!”

5. Portable gongfu tea set

This simple tea set includes an interlocking tea pot and tea cup for easy traveling. 

“My dad always just slouches on the sofa after a meal and enjoys tea with this mini tea set that he usually carries with him everywhere he goes —while I drink soda,” Holly joked. “Don’t be like me. Be like my dad. Sip tea with the proper tea set to unwind and find your inner peace. Peace and love.” 

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If you enjoyed this story, check out In The Know’s profile on Chriselle Lim.

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