Chinois 790 xxx
photo by george billard

1.10.10 Chinoiserie

I once read somewhere that were he to come back as a kitchen tool (literally), David Chang would want to be a chinois. So called because of it’s alleged resemblance to the straw hat worn by the Chinese, the chinois (or chinoise) is an elegant little device that will elevate your sauces and soups to a new level of sophistication. This conical sieve with an extremely fine mesh is used to strain out the very smallest particles from custards, purees, soups and sauces, thus producing a smooth, velvety texture. It’s a rather expensive tool, not to be confused with the cheaper “China cap,” which has much larger holes. The chinois usually comes with a dowel that looks a bit like a pointy pestle, which is what you use to work soft foods through the mesh. It lets you easily press every last bit of juice and flavor from the solids. Some chinois come with a stand that is useful for holding it upright over a pot or bowl. Try using your chinois next time you’re making stock, pureed soup, jelly or custard. You will be shocked (pleasantly) by how refined the texture becomes and, because you can press on any remaining solids, you will notice a deeper, more intense flavor.
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