Now that I've got your attention, let me tell you about my new favorite cooking tool -- it's a Japanese skimmer that lifts off unwanted crud from your bubbling brew, whether that's a stock, pot of beans or batch of Vietnamese pork riblets in caramel sauce. The skimmer works a zillion times better than any other gadget I've bought or tried.
The mesh is fine and the rim is thin enough to just glide right under the fat or scuzzy bubbles and scoop it right up. Whoever designed it was a genius because the mesh has been formed into a slight bowl shape to hold the unwanted junk. What's more, it cleans up exceptionally well with soap and can go into the dishwasher.
Some of you have said that skimming scum from your pot of pho seems like an endless task but with this lightweight skimmer, you'll be looking forward to when the scum reappears on the surface of the broth. You'll be sad when there's nothing left to skim.
I'm indebted to Niloufer Ichaporia King, author of the fabulous My Bombay Kitchen about Parsi cooking in India, for inviting me to lunch and then sending me away with this invaluable gift. She beamed with enthusiasm when she gave it to me and I knew it was special. Niloufer is no fool. So many thanks to Niloufer! (By the way, if you're in the Bay Area, Niloufer is cooking her annual Parsi New Year Feast at the venerable Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley on March 21. Call for details.)
Where can you buy one? Try an Asian market or restaurant/kitchenware supply shop like the Kamei or the Wok Shop in San Francisco Chinatown, where Niloufer got hers. I saw them at Marina Foods market in Cupertino. Wherever you are, I imagine that these are not hard to find.
The one I have came in a plastic sleeve with yellow and black Japanese lettering. One of the words -- if you read characters -- is for oil. I noticed that there are some that don't come in the plastic but look the same. Also, they come in different sizes.
How much does this thing cost? About
Less than $2 my friends. Go forth and seek one for yourself!