Ernesto Uchimura is known in L.A. as a master of creative comfort food. At Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, where Uchimura is chef, he serves twists on American comfort classics, such as smokey fried chicken and pastrami with kimchee mustard. Despite his penchant for mash-ups, Uchimura is an old school chef, as demonstrated by his tool kit. No circulators or liquid nitrogen here. Check out his must-have tools.
7. Wood for smoking
“Adding smoke to foods can help preserve them, impart great flavor, and trigger our primal urges of hunger. I like to use a variety of woods, like hickory, mesquite and applewood in different sizes – like logs for a long, slow smoke for big food, chunks for smaller ingredients, and chips for quick, high temperature cooking.”
6. Apps on my phone
“These are quick reference tools for a chef. Some apps can store recipes; others have information on ingredients. I use apps that can breakdown recipes in to different measurements like weight, volume or even ratios. Another app can tell me where a particular oyster is from and the tasting notes.”
5. A big powerful pepper mill
“It has to grind fast and have a large size grinder mechanism. Nothing is worse than having to crank a small pepper mill forever to get some freshly ground pepper. When you grind pepper right before serving, the pepper transmits its aromatic and spicy flavor better.”
4. Cake tester
“To probe the interior of food to check for doneness and internal temperature. I can probe cooked fish to tell the doneness by the resistance I feel or I'll probe a roast of meat and touch the cake tester to a sensitive part of my skin to determine the internal temperature. It's also good for determining when a cake is done.”
3. Non-reactive cookware
“Stainless steel or enameled/glazed to cook acidic foods. I prefer mine with a thick bottom that's lined with copper or iron for better heat conductivity and even cooking.”
2. Digital scale
“For on-the-go portioning and precise measurements, down to 1 gram. There are many options out there, but I prefer a scale that has a removable digital display faceplate. This allows for a clear view of the digital display when I'm measuring in bulky containers or bowls.”
1. A great knife
“I use all kinds of knives in the kitchen, depending on the job. I always like to have a chef's knife, at least 10 inches long, with a full tang and a thick blade to cut through big, hard ingredients like squash or chicken bones. I also find that a flexible utility knife, around 7 inches long, with a thin blade is useful for filleting small fish or getting precise cuts on delicate ingredients.”
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