Ah, the stainless steel fish spatula. It actually took me a while to realize this was a thing and that I needed one. If you cook fish with any regularity, though, you may already know why it’s so important: fish flesh is reaaally delicate, and has a tendency to fall to pieces when you’re trying to cook it. Enter the fish spatula, or more specifically, the fish turner.
It looks a lot like a pancake flipper, though they’re typically longer and made of stainless steel instead of the typical silicone you say for most turner-style spatulas (see: “rubber spatulas“). You want one that has a beveled edge so it slips neatly under the fish without damaging the tender flesh, and with nice wide slots to let the cooking oil or poaching liquid slide through.
I’ve seen these suckers listed for pretty high price tags, but if you’re not a professional chef or cooking fish nearly every day, you can probably use a more everyday-priced utensil. Here are a few of my choices for good home fish spatulas:
A Fish Turner For Almost Anyone
Above is a picture of the OXO Good Grips Fish Turner, which usually runs a little more than 10 bucks at Amazon. I’ve mentioned OXO kitchen utensils (well, spatulas, anyway) a few times, and it’s because they’re well made, do the job, they last and they’re affordable enough for anyone.
This baby has a nice oversized, slotted stainless steel head with that beveled edge we talked about, so it slips right under your fish without damaging it. Of course, you can use it for other things besides fish, like crab cakes, omelettes, or anything delicate that you’re worried about breaking apart.
The one flaw I’ve found with this is the handle can and will melt if you set it against the pan. My advice to combat this problem is this: don’t rest the handle against your hot pan! It’s pretty simple.
Of course, if you cook a lot of fish and want to step it up to a better model, or you’re way clumsy and apt to leave it to melt against the pan, this is my choice for a higher-end fish turner…
A Fish Spatula For Those Who Mean Business
Here we have the LamsonShapr 3″x6″ Chef’s Slotted Turner, which will run you about 20 dollars at amazon.com, and they even have extra big-ass one for a few bucks more. And since we’re talking high-end cooking utensils here, this is specifically made for right handed people, so if you’re a lefty you’ll want the left-handed version.
The construction quality on these suckers is top-notch (check out those nickel silver rivets!) and unlike the OXO fish turner, the handle isn’t going to melt on you. And the left/right hand construction makes it a little easier for you to handle.
But What If I Use A Non-Stick Pan??
Well, honestly, I mostly use a non-stick pan, too… just not for fish. But I’m not one to tell you how to cook, so I’ve got you covered here, too.
The Zyliss Angled, seen here, will run you under ten dollars over at amazon.com. It’s got a tapered edge, and it’s made of silicone so it shouldn’t melt on you. The slots aren’t as wide as I prefer when I’m cooking fish, but they’re alright for this type of turner.
My advice for anyone cooking anything is to use the right tools for the job. If you’re cooking fish, or really anything that is delicate but that you’ll need to flip, while straining off the fluid it’s cooking in, you ought to have a nice fish spatula.