I’m not talking about the insect. I don’t like insects in my kitchen, spider or otherwise. I’m talking about the cooking utensil that you’ve probably seen before in Chinese restaurants but might not know what it’s called. It consists of a strainer and a long handle. The name? Kitchen spider.
A kitchen spider is used for scooping out pieces of meat, vegetable or seafood from hot broth or oil. Most spiders come with bamboo handles although there are also spiders with metal handles with a rubberized end so you don’t burn your hand if the metal gets too hot.
Is a kitchen spider really necessary? Won’t a slotted spoon do?
The thing about quick cooking is how you need to cook small pieces of food in very hot oil (or broth) and only for a very short time. If you use a slotted spoon, you will only be able to scoop out so much, leaving the rest to overcook. With a spider, you can scoop out everything in one go.
A spider is also very useful when cooking whole fish or chicken because you can scoop out the fish or chicken without breaking it.
But the spider is not only useful in Asian style cooking. It is great for cooking French fries and potato chips because the oil drains fast instead of soaking the potatoes.
Kitchen spiders come with different features.
1. Size. If you’re planning on getting a spider, choose the size that matches your wok or frying pan. Ideally, the diameter of the spider should be smaller than the diameter of the pan or wok.
2. Curve. The curve of the sieve also varies as some are more flat than others. Determine how you generally want to use your spider then choose whether you want one with a flatter sieve or one with a deeper sieve.
3. Fineness. The metal of the sieve can be as fine as a window screen or as coarse as intertwined wire. If you’re planning on using your spider to scoop out rather small pieces of food, the one with a fine sieve will be ideal. If you only intend to use it for frying whole fish or boiling whole chickens, the kind with a less fine sieve might be more useful.
Two of many ways we use a kitchen spider at home: