a very useful, but expensive, kitchen item. Today we are going to the other end of the spectrum with a must-have wallet friendly gadget, a spider. Sometimes referred to as a skimmer, a spider should have a relatively long handle (preferably stay-cool but not required), be stainless steel, and have a head that it makes it easy to retrieve stuff out of a pot and drain quickly. Mine was a $6 or so find in Chinatown but even at a fancy retail store a spider should never run you more than $20.
So what does one use this for? So so so many things. A spider is incredibly handy if you want to safely deep fry anything. Use the basket to lower your object of fryfection into the hot oil and use it again to retrieve it once it is done, no dangerous splashing! A spider is also perfect for blanching. Blanching is a great technique for cooking vegetables to help them maintain their color and consistency or to partially cook them ahead of time. Basically, you lower your veggies into boiling water for a minute or two and then immediately dunk them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Guess how you get your veggies from the boiling water into the shock tank? Bare hands, spoons, and spatulas won't cut it. Spider to the rescue. Another use for a spider is lowering homemade ravioli into boiling water and fishing them out when done. After carefully making a filling, rolling dough, and forming your little dumplings, the last thing you want to do is plunk those suckers into the water and watch them break on contact. Use a spider and your ravioli will be safe... and delicious.