What Omsom’s Kim Pham Can't Live Without in Her Kitchen
Perfect mixing bowls, a rice paper gadget, weeknight-ready seasonings and more.
With Omsom’s savory starters, sisters Kim and Vanessa Pham have made it a cinch to whip up restaurant-worthy meals like Korean spicy pork bulgogi and lemongrass barbecue chicken at home. Individually packaged sauces and seasonings — presented with inspiring recipe suggestions — make convenient additions to otherwise oomph-less protein and vegetables. The duo has built a thriving business on the idea of keeping cooking at home a drama-free affair, so we asked one half of the sibling dream team to share what other kitchen essentials make life a little easier and a lot more flavorful. Kim Pham spills the beans on her must-have tools and ingredients, all shoppable online.
When rolling rice paper, which Pham says she does a lot while making spring and summer rolls, using a dedicated rice paper water bowl is a must. The separate compartments reserved for water make it simple to gently moisten your paper and help minimize the splashy mess. "No more unwieldy large bowls of hot water at the dinner table," she says. "This handy lil’ device allows you to take up a minimal table footprint while still getting the job done!"
Why should all the fun be reserved for eccentric crockery and flatware? When all is cooked and ready in the kitchen, Pham loves to use Areaware’s whimsical serving utensils, which come in shapes like flowers, waves and grabby hands. "I am obsessed with these funky serving utensils!" she says, adding that they serve as great conversation starters at dinner parties.
Pham is a self-proclaimed chili oil connoisseur who says she toggles between six or more varieties at any given time, but her favorite among them is Boon sauce, a small-batch oil created by chef Max Boonthanakit of Nightshade in Los Angeles. "There’s a strong heat, followed by rich depth," she says, attributing the potent flavor to the combination of anchovies with chilies, garlic and spices. "It is seriously good on everything!"
Omsom products are great time-savers in the kitchen, so it’s no surprise Pham favors the Best Seller Set which packs three each of the Vietnamese Lemongrass BBQ, Thai Larb, Japanese Yuzu Misoyaki, Korean Spicy Bulgogi, and Thai Krapow starter packets into one convenient box. "I can’t help but recommend our Best Seller Set as an essential for any kitchen," she admits. "When you’re in a pinch for a weeknight dinner, toss one of our most popular sauces with your choice of protein and vegetables, and you’ll have a real-deal Asian meal ready in minutes."
Pham proudly features MSG in Omsom’s Thai Krapow sauce, and says the ingredient is not problematic, but instead classically versatile in cooking. "It was amazing to have a chance to rewrite the harmful myths that surround MSG in America, and our work actually led to Whole30 changing their programming this year to allow it," she details, going on to say that it is a staple in her kitchen. "I can toss it into nearly any dish — from my dry rubs to my salad dressing. The umami boost is perfect."
Wusthof is a household name among culinary pros for its superior collection of chef’s knives, and Pham says the cleaver is a worthy addition to any kitchen’s arsenal. "The cleaver is a catch-all knife used in a lot of Asian households," she admits. "The experts at Wusthof make really classic knives for even the most professional of home cooks."
Just as important as it is in a restaurant kitchen, proper prep and a neat station can make cooking at home a whole lot easier. Pham relies on OXO's mise en place bowls. "Nothing is quite as dreamy as a beautifully prepped mise en place when cooking," she says. According to Pham, separating ingredients in the clear glass bowls results in a less crowded cutting board, thus fewer ingredients to clean off the floor and counter — a win all around.
Diaspora Co. has a bountiful selection of single origin spices sourced from India, but Pham says the Aranya black pepper is a favorite. "Talk about a pantry staple," she says of the spice which is hand harvested in Kerala and boasts notes of nutmeg and citrus. "Crack it over fresh pasta or into your marinades, because it brings a really beautiful aroma and depth to your cooking!"
In lieu of dining plates, Pham prefers to serve meals out of bowls and finds the classic craftsmanship of Food 52’s Five Two stoneware bowls an easy addition to any kitchen. Neutral-toned and with a broad opening, the cutlery is versatile and will likely fit right in with any existing collection. "Wide, shallow pasta bowls are the superior vessel to serve food in, prove me wrong!"