The Kitchen Tool No Chef Can Live Without

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In professional kitchens there is no shortage of kitchen tools, the tried and true staples that are necessary to creating great food. Though you won’t often find a garlic press or a melon baller in every restaurant kitchen you will definitely see ladles, whisks, rubber spatulas, and the most important tool in any chef’s arsenal -aside from their knives, of course- is the old-fashioned pair of kitchen tongs.

 

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Tongs are an extension of a cook’s arm, and like a cook’s arm, they come in all shapes and sizes, and many are modified to a certain degree to perform a specific task. Quicker and more versatile than spatulas or spoons, and more exacting when turning foods that are searing, the importance of tongs cannot be overstated. The ideal tong for the home cook has a silicon wrapped handle that ensures no heat transference. Longer tongs are indispensable for cooking over larger surface areas – think grilling season, when a pair of long tongs will be welcome whether you’re turning hot dogs on a tiny Hibachi or flipping pitas on a Big Green Egg.

 

your basic finger pinchers

your basic finger pinchers

 

A pair of stainless spring-hinged tongs like the ones pictured above can be found at any dollar store and will do in a pinch – pun intended. If you’re not careful that hinge can pinch your fingers, but it’s still better than using your fingers with hot food, or trying to manipulate ingredients with a less dexterous tool like a spoon or a spatula. How else do you quarter turn your pizza in the oven for even-cooking, or toss your pasta with pesto before serving? Rather than the spring loaded hinge tong, try the springless option like the ones pictured below; silicone wrapped handles and no pinching, ever. A pair like this can be purchased at Tap Phong for under ten dollars and will last a lifetime.

 

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Speaking of pasta, tongs are essential when executing a restaurant quality swirled mound of long noodles. When home cooks ponder how chefs make restaurant food look so much better than home food, tongs are a big part of the equation. Think about those towering beautiful salads you enjoy when you’re dining out, as opposed to the flaccid flops you create at home. Tongs are the secret. They ensure that every component on a dish, whether that be a leaf of tender mâche or an al dente linguine noodle, is expertly placed.

 

a pair of tongs modified specifically for noodles

a pair of tongs modified specifically for noodles

 

Ask any chef and they’ll tell you that a properly outfitted kitchen needs a pair of tongs, and preferably two to ensure there is no cross contamination between your decadent pasta and your fresh salad. And a long handled pair outside by the grill or fire pit doesn’t hurt either. A melon baller you can do without, but tongs? Those are essential.

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