This Just May Become Your Favorite Cooking Tool

One of the most versatile cooking tools is something most people don’t even have…yet. It can accomplish so many different tasks well that you may start to wonder how you lived without it.  It’s called the fish spatula. The fish spatula is a bit of a funny-looking spatula. Think of it as a thin, but firm elongated version of a spatula or a pancake flipper. But, oh how much more it can do!

Fish...Of Course!

Let’s begin with the obvious…fish. The original idea of the fish spatula was to offer a spatula that can squeeze itself under a delicate piece of fish and lift it out without breaking. And, yes, it can do a  wonderful job of that task. It’s firm enough to hold a good-sized filet. But it’s also somewhat flexible. That flexibility allows the fish spatula to spring to the right angle to get into a pan and get under a piece of fish. And because it’s elongated it gives a nice “platform” for an entire long fish filet keeping pieces of it from being left behind in the pan or hanging over the spatula’s end and breaking. Super-handy!

What's Else Is It Good For?

Once you have it in your kitchen, you will realize that it lends itself to a bunch of other applications equally well. Here are a couple of examples of jobs the fish spatula can do incredibly well.

Flipping Pancakes

It’s really the same principle as for fish. Barely cooked pancakes that need to get flipped are a little loose and a bit floppy. Because of it’s wide end, its flexibility, and its firmness, it can slide under those pancakes, scoop them up gently, and give you the great hand-control to be able to flip them with ease.

Sheet Pan Food Removal

Whether it’s a batch of roasted veggies, cookies, or pastries the fish spatula can slip under it and separate the food gently from the pan. 

Wok Stir-frying

Here’s where that angled head can come in handy. It’s just the right angle for scraping across the wok’s bottom and slanted sides. They also tend to have long enough handles to be able to keep your hands from getting too close to the hot wok surface. Definitely a plus!

Brownie Cutting

The head’s thinness and bit of flexibility, makes this a great tool for slicing into brownies cleanly and easily. It just nicely and provides just the right surface to lift them up cleanly from the pan without breaking and crumbling them.

Shallow Deep Frying

If you have food that you want to deep fry, but not in inches upon inches of hot oil, consider your fish spatula. It’s slotted and thin and angled. It’s perfect fro scooping those chips, donuts, or fritters up and out of the oil. It does a great job of flipping the food (if needed) and also lifting it up and out. Hey, this would also be a super tool for dunking and removing bagels and/or pretzels from boiling water. (See my last Recipe of the Week: Garlic Herb Parmesan Pretzel Twists by What's Gaby Cooking or this great Lox + Schmear Stuffed Everything Bagels recipe from What Jew Wanna Eat.)

Ready to Shop For One?

Not all fish spatulas are created equal. So, here are a few things to consider when you're shopping for one. The blade lengths,widths, and angles vary depending on brand and/or model. Think about your most likely applications and decide if you want one with longer. more flexible blades or shorter, sturdier blades. Also, remember your cookware. If you will be using the fish spatula on nonstick surfaces, be sure to opt for the silicone models (or at least one with silicone tips and/or blades). You don;t want to scratch your nonstick surfaces!

Also, compare a few of the finer points. Different spatulas have different size and shaped handles. Some handles are longer, some a little shorter. (For most cooks 6 1/2 -7 inches usually feels about right). Like all kitchen tools, pick them up and see how each one feels in your hand.

If you look closely, some models also have a slight curve at the blade's tip. This can really help you cradle the food once you've lifted it up. But you don;t want such a dramatic curve that it becomes hard to get under the food ini  the first place.

Convinced yet? I’m telling you, pick one up (they’re really not that expensive) online or at just about any cooking store. I bet it quickly becomes one of those tools you use almost every day!

If you liked this post, you may also want to check these out:
- Meet the Mezzaluna
- The Most Overlooked Tool in the Kitchen

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