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Michelin-starred kitchens may seem like elusive cooking wonderlands, filled with laboratory-like sous vide cookers, professional-grade stovetops, and vacuum sealers. But the best chefs often rely on the simplest tools to create their magic. Case in point: the modest tasting spoon. Chef Paul Lau Ping Lui of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Tin Lung Heen in Hong Kong’s Ritz-Carlton says this utensil is the one every young chef should have in their arsenal.

“I always tell the young chefs on my team that to be a good chef, you first have to understand the characteristics and flavors of different ingredients and bear them in mind,” Lau Ping Lui tells Domino. “Then you have to explore the flavors of different ingredient combinations, so as to create dishes with the right combinations.” This is why this humble tasting spoon, which you can purchase on Amazon for a mere $18, is the one item he swears by in the kitchen.

Food & Drink photo
Gray Kunz Sauce Spoon, J.B. Prince ($18)

Lau Ping Lui has come a long way since his early days cooking in a Wan Chai restaurant. “I was so eager to master the different skills and procedures of Cantonese cooking that I volunteered to work in the restaurant’s dim sum kitchen for free in the morning while working in the main kitchen in the evening,” he recalls. Hard work did pay off in his case: Today he is one of Hong Kong’s most accomplished chefs. Ahead, we asked him to share a few of his top kitchen secrets that anyone can master at home.

Remember the Three Pillars of Cooking

“My cooking style can be summarized in three elements: the best ingredients, the most traditional method, and the most modern yet simple presentation,” says the chef. “I love Hong Kong because it has the best ingredients from all over the world, which inspires me to create innovative dishes.”

Fall Back on This Ingredient Combo

“I like to cook with seafood and mushrooms,” says Lau Ping Lui. “They are both very versatile ingredients. Diners nowadays are getting more and more health conscious. Seafood and mushrooms are rich in nutritional value and low in calories.”

Always Add Soy Sauce to Tomatoes

“I always love to add light soy sauce when making dishes with tomatoes, no matter if I am creating a homey dinner for my family or cooking at Tin Lung Heen,” says the chef. This combination never goes wrong.”

Shop the Chef’s Cooking Essentials

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