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.
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.