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Build my Kitchen Arsenal... - Page 2

post #31 of 38
Good start. A name on the cutting board doesn't make it better.

They're cheap. Get all three. 8" is basically eggs for one. 10" is omelettes and all sorts of utility. If you're serious about omelettes, you'll want a dedicated pan. 12" gets a lot of use for two, but a real workout when you entertain.
You can't go wrong with Vollrath. The handles don't look as French as Bourgeat (no surprise), but Vollrath makes a stout pan.

Woks are one of those all too rare pieces of equipment where cheap means good. You're looking for something not too light but not too heavy. Hammer marks are cool, but no big deal one way or the other for cooking. Curved bottoms and fire rings are less stable but wok better than flat bottoms. Tough choice. Cast iron is also good.

Pain to use around the house, but you gotta do what you got to do. Brand, most emphatically, does not make a difference. Messer's probably the most common.

Hmm. Still a good idea to have a cheap one. You never know, someone may show up with a batard and a bottle of vin. Speaking of frying, drop a few loonies on good wood handled spatulas, a board knife, and a fish turner. A good fish turner is important.

Chili is essentially a braise. Cast iron, especially enamelled cast (non-reactive) are a little bit of help but certainly not essential. I'd invest in a good, stainless rondeau / dutch oven before buying cast of any sort.

Have you looked at Vollrath Tribute (tri-ply) prices? Worth it if you can afford it. Vollrath is ... well .. Vollrath.

Yes to the 10" and 12" skillets. "Saute pan" is another name for "chicken fryer." With a 10 and 12" stainless skillet to handle all the reactive jobs, I'd go with plain aluminum for the saute pan -- or vice versa. I'd also go 12" fwiw. Plain cast iron (like Lodge) is really the ultimate chicken fryer, but you can't store and afford everything right off the bat. As another fwiw, 14" is a very useful size chicken fryer. Good to have a wish list.

Sauce pans -- you'll know what sizes you need when you see them. I don't know your quantities or how tight or roomy you like to work. Consider at least one saucier or Windsor shape for stirring/reduction. Don't forget that if you're doubling on sizes to get a different shape you can always buy commercial aluminum. Aluminum rocks as long as you don't use it for what you shouldn't use it.

Get an inexpensive, plain stainless, generic stock pot. Once the walls get that high you don't need the fancy construction -- the sheer volume of liquid will take care of even conduction. That saved you a little money, anyway.

All you really NEED for sharpening is a 1000# (JIS). But you'll want something coarser for profiling and thinning, and something a little finer for polishing. King makes a lot of different grades from lousy to very good -- a good choice in waterstones for learning. Norton waterstones are better than all but the best Kings, very consistent, and also a great choice for a beginner.

The knives you're buying don't need waterstones. You can use oil stones if you like. They're slower, but generally less expensive and need considerably less maintenance. I'll give you some sample sets and you can price them out yourself.

But before I do, let me mention the Norton IB-8 combination India stone. "India" is Norton's trade name for aluminum oxide. The stone is 8x2x1 with a very coarse grit on one side, and a medium coarse grit on the other. You can use it without oil (in fact you should, and if you get one I'll tell you how to do it), so you can use it as part of a set which includes waterstones. The coarse side is very forgiving as coarse stones go with less of a tendency to scratch up your knives than waterstones of similar speed. The fine side, while relatively slow compared to waterstones of similar (nominal grit) raises a burr VERY quickly. The stone is extremely useful and relatively low priced.

Also, before getting to specific recommendations, let me explain why I'm staying away from some really good and popular stones: Shapton Professionals are too unresponsive, penalize an uncertain angle too strongly, and are too expensive, for anyone who isn't already a good sharpener. DMT diamond stones are expensive, wear quickly (making them still more expensive) and at the XC and XXC are too aggressive. You WILL scratch your knives. They have their uses, but hold off awhile. I don't have enough experience with Shapton GS to say whether they're really a good choice for a beginner or not -- in any case the Naniwa Super Stones (Set 5, below) are an excellent choice.

Set 1: Norton IB-8; Norton combination 1000/4000 waterstone; Norton flattening plate.

Set 2: Norton IB-8; Ice Bear (King near top of the line) 1000#, Ice Bear 4000#, stone holder; piece of glass and sandpaper for flattening. Ice Bears are excellent traditional water stones. They're "traditional" in the sense that like Norton, they need lots of soaking and frequent flattening. Better quality, more expensive than Norton.

Set 3: Norton kit: 220/1000 and 4000/8000; Norton flattening plate (comes with + boxes make decent sharpening stands); synthetic nagura. By the time you're good enough to use the 8000 you'll probably have gone through the 1000 -- but who knows? They were my first waterstones and it's an excellent kit.

Set 4: Norton IB-8; Hall's soft Arkansas; Hall's surgical black Arkansas. The kit I use. Love the feel and the polish of that surgical black. This is a great set but not a great set for upper end Japanese stainless knives, or for carbons like Aogami and Shirogami -- too darn slow. It's reasonable, but not cheap. The big upsides as far as you're concerned are zero maintenance and tons of feedback from the sharpening grits.

Set 5: Naniwa Super Stone 400#, 1000#, 5000#; flatten on glass and sandpaper; no nagura. Excellent set, if you can afford it. I actually like it better than Set 3, and wish I'd known Naniwa SS were available from a good e-tailer because I'd have been recommending these a lot sooner. You won't outgrow the stones. They don't need soaking either, just splash and go. The downside is the bases on which they're mounted. But you'll have gone through the 400 and the 1000 by the time you've figured out why they're a problem. So, no problem.

You can get most of the stones at Tools for Working Wood, and they're definitely the right place for the Naniwa Super Stones. Sharpening Supplies has good prices on Norton. Japanese Knife Sharpening is the best source for Shapton GS. Stay away from Shapton Pro, you're not there yet.

post #32 of 38
I was actually considering all 3 sizes for the carbon steel pans :) You gave me a nice nudge.

I'll definitely drop some loonies on those things you mentioned. When I DO get a bread knife, I know which one to get, Mac. Probably next time Korin has 15% sale.

Should I go with a tri-ply or plain stainless? The brazier sounds like something I'll use very often for chilli, stew, and has an added value for when I cook Korean soups, which I'm trying to cook more of nowadays.

Regarding the prices on Vollrath, I wrote up a post regarding different brands and prices on foodie forum. I did few hours or price research on the net, and the following is what I found for tri-ply.

All-Clad, super-expensive. Paying for the brand name, I assume.
Gourmet Standard, out of business.
Calphalon, designer stainless line, more expensive than Vollrath.
Otherwise, Calphalon, Vollrath, Emerilware all very similarly priced.

Restaurantequipment dot net
This vendor is the cheapest I found so far. Carries every Vollrath for fraction of the cost.

I'll be keeping these cookware for life, so might as well go best. You certainly seems to like Vollrath, and that says a lot to me.

It seems to me that the Rondeau would suffice as a sauce pot too. But I should get a smaller sauce pot for Korean soups, and soups in general. For sauce pans... I know I learned with 1,2L sauce pans, 4L sauce pot. (Notice the metric system, thankfully qt isn't too different from the litre) Those were a good size for me, but I'll probably end up checking out at some local shops to make sure before I order online.

I do need to get myself a nice stock pot, strainer, steamer basket, lid(THE 4). The el-cheapo I use now has a deformed plastic handle that burns every time I use it(just from the heat of the gas range...) However, Vollrath don't have this, 20qt is the smallest size Vollrath carries, which is too big for me, since I'm looking for 8-12qt. I think I'm going to have to find some pot combo elsewhere...

What do you mean by "flatten on glass and sandpaper". I like the set 5. I don't like the 2-in-1 type of thing very much. What would be the very first step for a beginner like me to learn sharpening?
post #33 of 38
While looking into Matfer Bourgeat pans, I discovered that there is a Bourgeat retailer in London, Ontario(which is where I live). After a bit of research, it seems that Bourgeat is similar brand to Vollrath(brand catered to more commercial purposes). Their stainless steel lines are performance and excellence, which are stainless equivalent of Vollrath. Not tri-ply. Excellence line is apparently same as performance only with prettier handle with extra cost. Which means performance is the only line I'll be looking at.

I have yet to visit them, I'll probably end up doing so on monday, since I'm working this weekend. For cookware that doesn't have to be tri-ply, which happen to be bigger stock pots, I'm thinking of going with this local store, if the cost is similar. What do you think?
post #34 of 38
The first step in learning how to sharpen depends on whether you can hold an angle or not. If you can steel a knife effectively, you can hold an angle. If you can hold an angle the first step is learning to raise (and feel) a wire.

Flattening waterstones is one of those little pieces of unpleasantness you don't consider when you fall into the thrall of Japanese knives. Not only do the knives need maintenance, but the waterstones need maintenance too. As they're used, they wear. When they wear, they wear unevenly, "dishing" in the middle. Any deviation from true flatness means that a knife held at a constant angle rides on a surface of variable angle -- which destroys the consistency of the bevel. So, the stones must be kept flat.

I know zip about Bourgeat stainless. Matfer Bourgeat is pretty good stuff. If it looks and feels right, it's almost certainly good. Trust the Force, Luke.

BTW, that's a great source for the Vollrath Tribute. I like it better than All Clad or Calphalon if you can tolerate the commercial kitchen look. It's built to abuse, which means it's built for gorillas like me. If and when I ever go through the Gen I anodized Calphalon I've got now, I'll move the non-reactive stuff over to Tribute.

Yes to buying a tri-ply (or whatever's the best you can afford) on your rondeau/dutch oven. Because you use it for braising -- you do a lot of searing, deglazing and other cooking where even heat at the bottom and the first 1/2" or so up the side is important. So, it's worth it to buy a good one.

Pick up one of those four in one sets from someplace like Target. Because the big pot is so big and either used for large volumes or making steam, you don't need the even heating you pay so much for otherwise. You should find some major deals on this kind of civilian cookware post Christmas.

When you say Korean soup, you aren't by any chance planning to make soon-tofu are you? Make mine spicy octopus.

post #35 of 38
Understood, so add the Norton flattening stone to my order. Got it :) Would I be using all 3 grit type, 400/1000/5000 to begin with? Or 1 or 2 of them, if so which one?

If I can tolerate the commercial kitchen look? No, not tolerate, I love it. Clean, simple, tough, gets the job done, it's just my taste.

When you mean big pots in this case, you mean +/-10L size right? not like commercial 40L bucket?

Oooh, it's one of them:) although I usually prefer my soon-dubu(Korean pronunciation) with things from the land.
post #36 of 38
Yes, all three are a good idea. If you can only afford one, get the 1000. If two, it's a close call. You'll want to profile and thin fairly soon -- and you'll want a 5000 level polish ASAP. The problem is it takes a little while before you do more good than harm with a 5000. Still, get all three now if you can.

Mine too. A lot of people can't tolerate those "gator grip" handles though.


(We have soon-tofu places all over SoCal and pronounce tofu dooboo). So, mandu for you?

post #37 of 38
Almost done deciding, just gotta make few phone calls to check out the internet matfer dealer that happens to be based in the city I live in(talk about coincidence). After that, do some math, and warm up the old credit card :)

I meant to ask you about steeling with the knives that I will be purchasing. I've had many inputs from fred's forum, but I'd like to hear what you have to say.

On a completely different note, I checked out the names on the brand new kitchenwares on where I work. What do I see? Vollrath on every single one of them. Old stuff, JR(with a crown logo), New stuff, Vollrath. I knew I saw that name somewhere.

Oh and mandoo for me :) not gyoza.
post #38 of 38
I couldn't find myself a steamer set from a retailer. Everything was in a set. So I started looking for it on the web, and found calphalon stainless set with a glass lid. I was almost going to buy this until I read few reviews concerning the glass lid shattering. Then I started to look elsewhere and found that vollrath also carried such a set, but in aluminum. A bit cheaper than calphalon as well. I've had many experiences with eggs turning green on aluminum griddle, and any chilli I make in an aluminum pot has a metallic after taste(this is from the army kitchen). You said aluminum rocks as long as I don't use it for what I shouldn't use it for. I don't know what that is exactly... (other than tomato.. or chilli). I can't think of a reason why aluminum steamer/pasta pot would be bad (or vollrath wouldn't make one under that name, I assume). But wanted to ask to be sure.
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