Essential tools: the following tools and equipment are essential in the Caribbean and Latin Cuisine. They are also essential for other types of cuisine as Caribbean Cuisine is a mixture of many other cuisines.
Baking Trays: Those without edges all round are often referred to as sheet. Baking trays have many varied uses. Dishes such as lasagne can be placed on baking trays so that they are easy to place in the oven as well as remove. They are also good for baking such items to reheat dishes. Other baking equipment can be bought as it is required. I would recommend starting with a set of 3, small, medium and large.
Chinois or China Cap: A china cap with very fine mesh. Used when great clarity or smoothness is required in a liquid
Chopping Boards/Cutting Boards: Essential for any job that involves cutting. Look for the color coordinated boards, so that you can use for different types of food (that is, to keep meat, especially chicken, separate from vegetables, for example). That way, there will be no cross-contamination of food. Make sure that you wash them thoroughly after use, washing in the dishwasher if you have one.
Colander and Sieve: Used or sifting flours and straining ingredients to remove any lumps, a sieve is usually made with fine mesh wire, while a colander tends to be rather bigger, with bigger holes or slots, and is used for draining cooked pasta and vegetables. Usually made in plastic and metal versions.
Food Mill: A tool with a hand-turned blade that forces foods through a perforated disk. Interchangeable disks produce different coarseness or fineness. Used for pureeing foods.
Grater: Mostly use for grating root vegetables, cheese, ginger, citrus zest, chocolate, and nutmeg. There are different sizes and purchasing should be done per need and usage.
Knife: see post for more info.
Ladles: are used for measuring and portioning liquids. The size, in ounces, is stamped on the handle.
Large Spoons: These can be plain spoon ideal for stirring or dishing out casseroles, stews, and vegetables, or a slotted draining spoon – this refers to the gaps in the bowl of the spoon which allow any liquid to drain out, back into the pan, for example when removing meat after searing it for a stew or casserole.
Mandoline: A manual slicing implement consisting of blades fitted in a flat metal or wood framework.
Measuring Jugs or Cups: Essential for measuring liquids, and solids. There are different sizes available. They are usually made of glass or plastic.
Measuring Spoons: These types of spoons ensure that the correct amount of ingredients is used (such as a ½ teaspoon or 1 tablespoon). (need more to add)
Mixing Bowls: Ideally you will have at least 2 – 3 sets. They are usually found made of glass or aluminum and plastic. They are essential in food preparation in the kitchen. One set for cooking and another set for baking is sometimes required for sanitation and hygiene purposes
Mortar and Pestle: In the Caribbean and Latin Cuisine are constantly being used in cooking up to the present day;
Pots and Pans: One of the best investment you can make. I would recommend that you buy a set of saucepans, as normally there are three to five different sizes and these should be adequate, to begin with. It is also recommended to have a good frying pan, one with a lid.
Scales: These are essential in cooking when necessary. Mostly used in countries where ingredients are normally measured in grams or ounces. Most scales, whether digital or conventional, measure in both measurements, and all have a bowl or a flat surface which to place the ingredients to be measured.
Sieve: a screen-type mesh supported in a round metal frame. Use for sifting flour and other dry ingredients.
Scoops: come in standard sizes and have a lever for mechanical release. They are used for portioning soft solid foods.
Tongs: Good for lifting raw and cooked foods when turning over during cooking or placing on plates or dishes.
Thermometers: measure temperatures. There are many kinds for many purposes.
- A meat thermometer indicates an internal temperature of meats. It is inserted before cooking and left in the product during cooking
- An instant-read thermometer gives readings within a few seconds of being inserted into a food product. It reads from 0° F to 220° F, Many chefs carry these in their jacket pocket like a pen, ready whenever needed. Instant-read thermometers must not be left in meats during roasting, or they will be damaged.
- Far thermometers and candy thermometers test temperatures of frying fats and sugar syrups. They read up to 400° F.
- Special thermometers are used to test the accuracy of an oven, refrigerator, and freezer thermostats.
Whisks: Used for whisking or whipping cream, eggs, and sauces in order to create a smooth consistency and incorporate air. They are usually formed from interlocking wires and are available in various types, most commonly the balloon whisk of varying sizes, the mechanical hand-operated rotary whisk, and a flat whisk.
Wooden Spoons: You can never have too many wooden spoons! Although they will not last forever and look the same after each wash, proper maintenance will keep them lasting a bit longer. When properly washed they should last one to two years, depending on what you use them for. I would recommend buying one of the sets that are so readily available. These normally come in different lengths – the shorter one is super for sauces and the other two for stirring foods, such as meat that is being released in a pan, as well as for missing cakes and batters. Although they wash perfectly well it is a good idea to keep some spoons for sweet dishes and other for savory dishes. Then there is the wooden spatula which is perfect for omelets or frying meats such as chops as the flat, wider area makes turning food over so much easier.
Zester: This is for removing long thin strands of the outer rind (“zest) of lemons, oranges or limes to use for decoration purposes.
Reference: Le Cordon Bleu – Kitchen Essentials