Unveiling the essence of Asia

The Secret Weapons of Asian Cuisine: Unraveling the Mystery of Unusual Kitchen Utensils in Asia

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Revealing Asia’s Innovative Tools for Timeless Recipes

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common traditional utensils used across Asia. From Bamboo skimmers to Steamboat hot pots, we’ll explore the significance and usage of each of these utensils.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or simply curious about the cultural traditions of Asia, this post is sure to offer insights and inspiration. So, sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of Asian traditional utensils together!


Credit: V&A

Huat – Sticky Rice Bamboo Steamer

A sticky rice bamboo steamer, also known as a Huat, is a traditional utensil used in many Asian countries to cook sticky rice. The steamer consists of two parts: an aluminum base and a basket. The base is filled with water and heated to create steam, while the basket is where the rice is placed and cooked. The bamboo helps to distribute the steam evenly and creates a moist environment that helps the rice slowly cook to perfection.

Bamboo steamers are commonly used in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, where sticky rice is a staple in the cuisines of these regions. These countries have a long history of using bamboo for a variety of utensils and tools too due to its abundance and versatility. The steamer is also an eco-friendly and sustainable option for cooking rice, as bamboo is a natural, renewable material.

Chasen – Matcha Green Tea Whisk

The Japanese Chasen whisk is a traditional utensil used for making matcha tea. The whisk is traditionally made from bamboo and features numerous thin tines that are woven together to form a delicate yet sturdy structure. The Chasen whisk is designed to aerate the matcha powder and create a smooth, frothy tea that’s full of flavor.

To use the Chasen whisk, begin by placing the matcha powder into a bowl. Next, add hot water to the bowl and use the whisk to mix the powder and water together. The whisk is held upright and whisked in a back-and-forth motion until the tea becomes frothy and has a smooth consistency. The Chasen whisk is an essential tool for anyone who enjoys traditional Japanese tea ceremonies or wants to make authentic matcha tea at home. With its unique design and precise construction the Chasen whisk helps to create a delicious cup of matcha green tea that’s both flavorful and visually appealing.

Credit: Foody Trip

Popcorn Cannon

An Asian popcorn cannon or popcorn gun is a unique utensil used in various Asian cultures to make popcorn. Made of metal the popcorn gun is so named as it resembles a small, handheld cannon. The popcorn is placed inside the cannon, which is then heated over a flame or stove. As the popcorn heats up, it pops and shoots out of the top of the cannon, making a fun and entertaining popping sound.

The popcorn cannon is commonly used in street food stalls or night markets in China and South Korea. Vendors use the cannon to create a spectacle for their customers, attracting attention and creating a fun atmosphere. To use the popcorn cannon, begin by adding the popcorn kernels to the cannon. Next, hold the cannon over a flame or stove and wait for the popcorn to pop and shoot out of the top of the cannon. The popcorn is then collected in a bag or a basket and seasoned with a variety of flavors, such as salt, butter, or sugar. The popcorn cannon is a fun and unique way to make popcorn and adds an element of excitement to any popcorn-loving gathering.

Kratai Kood Maprao – Rabbit Coconut Grater

The rabbit coconut grater is a traditional tool used in many Asian countries to grate coconut from the shell. Crafted as a carved wooden rabbit that the protagonist eager for grated coconut sits upon, and taking the opened coconut shell in a firm grip grates the interior of the shell over the toothed grating blade that is held in the rabbit’s upturned mouth. By sitting on the rabbit, one gets a good purchase to get all the hard-to-get coconut flesh out from the inside of the shells.

Grated coconut is used in a variety of dishes, from curries to desserts, and the rabbit coconut grater provides a quick and efficient way to prepare it. The tool is also an integral part of cultural traditions and a walk through a local market one will hear the scrape, scrape, scrape of the rabbit grater and immediately think of delicious dishes to take home such as the Thai dessert khao niao mamuang which features sticky rice and coconut cream.

Aep Khao / Kratip – Sticky Rice Serving Container

An Aep Khao is a traditional container in a handy serving size that is used in Southeast Asia to store sticky rice and to keep it warm, perfect both for picnics and at the table. The container is made from woven bamboo and consists of two parts, a basket and a lid. After the sticky rice is cooked in the steamer it will be placed in this container with the lid slipped on top to keep the sticky rice warm and fresh for hours. This makes it a popular choice for outdoor gatherings, picnics, ‘bento’ packed lunches, and other events.

Sil Batta – India’s Mortar and Pestle

A Sil Batta is a traditional Indian utensil used for grinding and crushing spices, herbs, and grains. Comprising of a flat stone, known as the Sil, and a cylindrical stone called the Batta, the Sil is placed on a flat surface, and the Batta is used to grind and crush the ingredients by rolling it back and forth over the surface of the Sil. The Sil Batta is still a popular tool today and can be found in many Indian kitchens. The tool is particularly useful for grinding whole spices, such as cumin, coriander, and cardamom, into a fine powder, which can then be added to dishes to enhance their flavor.

In Nepal, they have a similar tool which is known as a Silauto and Lohoro and used for grinding spices and grains. Similarly, in Indonesia, where here a traditional mortar and pestle is called a called Cobek and Ulekan.

Wire Skimmer

The Wire Skimmer is a traditional Chinese kitchen utensil used for removing food from boiling liquids such as hot oil or broth. The utensil consists of a wide and flat wire basket attached to a long bamboo handle, which provides a comfortable grip while keeping the user’s hands safe from the heat. The basket is made of thin wire mesh, which allows liquids to drain out while retaining solid ingredients.

Wander the markets of Asia and you will see the skimmer used for frying foods such as dumplings, spring rolls, banana fritters, and tofu. The skimmer’s long handle allows the user to keep a safe distance from the hot oil or broth, while the wire mesh basket ensures that the food is evenly cooked and drained of excess oil. The Wire Skimmer is a versatile and essential tool in any Asian kitchen, and it is found both in home kitchens and professional settings.

Charcoal Steamboat

The Charcoal Steamboat pot is a traditional Chinese cooking vessel used for preparing hot pot dishes. The pot is made of aluminum and is designed to be heated with charcoal, which is placed in a separate compartment underneath the pot. The pot is typically large enough to feed a family of diners and is used for cooking a wide variety of ingredients from meat to seafood, vegetables and herbs.

Popular today across Asia you will see groups of friends or families gathered around hot pots in restaurants and eateries, especially during the cooler months when hot pot dishes are a comforting and warming meal. To use the pot, charcoal is placed in the compartment inside the center part of the pot and lit, and the pot is filled with a flavored broth or stock. Once the broth has come to a boil, ingredients are added to the pot and cooked to the desired level of the diner’s doneness. It provides a fun and flavorful way to cook and enjoy meals with family and friends.

Credit: Sama D

Chulesi Cutting Tool

Chulesi is a traditional cutting tool similar in purpose to a knife. It was long the standard tool used for cutting vegetables in Nepali households. Characterized by its unique curved blade that is attached to a firm base, the concept is similar to SouthEast Asia’s rabbit grater, where the user’s weight helps give purchase to the action. The shape of a Chulesi resembles a swan’s neck, graceful and curved with a sharp pointed end. To use, you put your knee or foot on the base and then with your 2 hands firmly gripping the ingredients you want to cut, you offer them up to the blade and cut the produce as held between your two hands.

The Chulesi is primarily used for cutting and slicing meat, vegetables, and other ingredients used in Nepali cuisine. Its unique shape and traditional design reflect the cultural and culinary heritage of the Himalayan region. It is an important part of Nepali culture, and the family Chulesi is often passed down as a family heirloom.


We hope that this edition has given you an interesting insight into the diverse and fascinating world of traditional Asian kitchen utensils. Understanding and appreciating these utensils not only helps us connect with the rich cultural heritage of Asia, but also enables us to explore new and exciting cuisines from this region.

If you want to discover more about the culinary and cultural treasures of Asia and have the best experience when visiting this beautiful region, we encourage you to contact Secret Retreats’ concierge team. Our expert team will provide you with personalized recommendations and insider tips to help you create unforgettable travel experiences. Whether you are looking for authentic local cuisine, cultural immersion, or unique accommodations, Secret Retreats has everything you need to make your journey to Asia absolutely unforgettable.

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