Great Kitchen Tools: The Spider Skimmer

Several years ago, I purchased a stainless steel spider skimmer at a cooking supply store.  I think this kitchen tool is a great thing to have in your arsenal if you like to cook Asian foods, pastas, or do any amount of deep-frying.

The spider skimmer originated as an Asian cooking tool and generally comes in two models: a metal skimmer with a bamboo handle, and the all metal (stainless steel) skimmer.  The size of the skimmer can vary too, with models from 4″ to 7″ in diameter.

I prefer the stainless steel skimmer, and I would suggest paying a few extra dollars for it.  The model I have retails for $18, but skimmers range from $6-$20, depending on the type and size you choose.

Personally, I always worried that if I purchased the bamboo model, the metal skimmer would detach itself from the bamboo handle when I was working with hot oil.  Just a fear of mine.

Here are a few of my favorite uses for the spider skimmer:

Obviously, the spider skimmer is a great accessory to deep fry anything that will fit inside it.  The skimmer is a safe way to bring vegetables, appetizer bites, doughnut holes, and delicate foods like wontons to hot oil without fearing a lot of splatters.  I just dip the skimmer into the oil and turn it gently to dispense the contents into frying oil.

I use my spider skimmer to blanch vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, and snow peas before cold-shocking them.  The skimmer allows the home cook to fish out vegetables from hot water with ease.

Draining Pasta
One of my favorite ways to use the spider skimmer is when I am cooking pasta.  I take the pasta out of the water in batches and allow the water to drip out, then I transfer the warm pasta to the sauce mixture or serving bowl I am using.  The spider skimmer is especially helpful if you want to reserve some of the hot pasta water for your pasta sauce, just take a cupful out of the pot (or whatever measurement you need) after removing the pasta noodles with the skimmer.

A small 4″ spider skimmer makes quick work of retrieving cooked items from hot broth in your fondue pot.  Use caution not to scratch the cooking surface when using the skimmer.