Tristan loves this Coles knife
Tristan loves this Coles knife

$4 Coles knife professional chef loves

WITH its plastic bag phase-out occupying headlines for the past two weeks, another recent development inside Coles has gone largely unnoticed.

At the end of June, the supermarket chain unveiled its updated Cook & Dine collection, including over 200 new or updated products.

With utensils, cookware, plastic containers and a collection of knives, Coles' general manager of non-food Charlotte Rhodes says the range is designed to create a more comprehensive offering for those grabbing what they need to cook at home.

"The range will round out the Coles shopping experience, giving our customers access to everything they need to prepare a beautiful dinner or bake a delicious cake."

Although larger supermarkets have carried a small selection of cookware for years, the offering has generally remained limited to simple utensils and a few basic frying pans, saucepans and baking trays.

The new selection includes stainless steel knives, a carbon steel non-stick wok, induction-friendly saucepan and frying pan, and a wooden chopping board.

With most of the range available for less than $10, the brand seems to be positioning itself to compete with other budget homeware retailers such as Ikea, Kmart and Big W.

But is the new kitchenware worth a spot in your kitchen? We put a few of the pieces to the test by cooking a simple chicken stir-fry, which you can see in the video above.

The first task was to cook some rice, for which we used the 20cm induction base saucepan ($18). The pan was sturdy, with a thin but solid base and comfortable handle. It brought water to a simmer quickly on our induction stovetop and cooked the rice evenly and without sticking.

Tristan loves this Coles knife.
Tristan loves this Coles knife.

Using the stainless steel garlic press to crush a number of peeled cloves was less successful, with only half the garlic passing through the hole-filled plate (the rest escaped messily in chunks from the sides of the press). The press retails for only $6, but even at that price we've used far better.

Slicing the vegetables for the stir-fry using the chopping board and knives yielded mixed results. The oversized Santoku knife ($6) felt too big even in my large hands and slipped a number of times while cutting an onion.

Conversely, the utility and paring knives ($4 each) cut quickly, easily and cleanly, demonstrating exceptional value for money. The acacia chopping board ($20) was solid, weighty and easily the highlight of the items we tested.

The 30cm non-stick carbon steel wok - one of the featured pieces in the new Cook & Dine range - sat neatly on the stove and heated quickly, its handle sturdy enough to maintain control yet light enough to make the wok easy to lift. Tossing ingredients was simple, and despite the non-stick surface (which can sometimes make browning food difficult), our chicken cooked quickly and well.

While my first fry with the wok was a success, cleaning it revealed that the non-stick surface had already begun to fail in spots, raising questions about its longevity.

Broadly, the stir-fry was a success, with the small knives, chopping board, saucepan and wok performing exceptionally.

The newly updated Coles Cook & Dine range won't interest those who value higher quality pieces of cookware. But if you need something affordable, and you're only looking for basic food preparation or to add a few key utensils, it's convenient and budget-friendly.

The knife is part of a new range of Coles homewares.
The knife is part of a new range of Coles homewares.

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