In Japan, small square or rectangular skillets—called makiyakinabe—are used to cook eggs for rolled omelets and sushi. We also like them for toasting nuts, seeds and spices on the stovetop. Their size is ideal for small quantities, and their steep sides prevent seeds from popping out. Toast over low to moderate heat, gently shaking the pan from side to side. Amazon sells several varieties for $20 and up.

If you’re not already toasting your spices, it’s time to change the way you cook. Toasting spices in a skillet until they become aromatic is the best way to coax the most flavor out of them and add depth to your dish. Better yet, buy spices whole whenever possible and grind as needed. That’s because whole spices retain their flavor better than ground, which are more susceptible to oxidation and get stale faster. They usually cost less, too.

See here for a handy chart that pairs the weight of whole spices with the equivalent volume of ground spices.

You can use a round skillet to be sure, but the steep sides of these square pans will keep seeds from escaping and making a mess of your stovetop. Plus, the corners make it easy to pour the contents of the pan into a bowl or spice grinder after toasting.

Whether you’re making Cracked Potatoes with Vermouth, Coriander and Fennel, Green Beans with Toasted Almonds, Browned Butter and Whole Spices, or the Egyptian nut and seed seasoning known as dukkah (use it to create a wonderful crust on everything from grilled meat to fish), you won’t regret taking an extra minute to throw your spices or nuts in a pan first.

For more of our favorite pans—like the Christopher Kimball for Kuhn Rikon Wok Skillet with Lid, the Field Company Number 8 Lightweight Cast Iron Pan, and the Yaki Yaki Grill Pan—check out the Milk Street Store.