Monday, June 05, 2006

Smooth Moves

Do you have one of these?
It's a Chinois, a conical strainer with a very fine mesh. Believe it or not, it seems to have been named for its resemblance to the Chinese "coolie" hat, since its other name is "China Cap." Which is a bit of a stretch, because you'd have to turn it upside down to get it to stay on, and who wants to walk around wearing an expensive kitchen implement on her head anyway?
I don't have one. The one pictured costs $120, though you could certainly get one for less. (No endorsements here. I'm a Chinois virgin, and I'm thinking of taking a chastity vow.)
But yesterday I made another puréed pea soup, and this time I decided to go ahead and strain the bejeezus out of it.
Last time I tried straining the pulpy particles out of soup, I was horrified at the sight of the wasted food, and I threw all that fiber and nourishment right back into the pot. (SFist thought that was worth a mention.)
But this time, I rolled up my sleeves, soldiered on, waded through the soylent muck... And ended up with a superduper, silky-smooth soup. I didn't use a real Chinois, but my sorta-fine mesh strainer did the job just fine. (If you decide to strain, you will have to coerce the soup through the strainer with a rubber spatula or the back of a wooden spoon, and there will be yummy goop stuck to the outside-bottom of the strainer that you will want to scrape off with a metal spoon.)
Verdict: Worth doing again. It was "restaurant" smooth!

Seasonal ingredients included fresh shelled English peas, cooked until tender in vegetable broth (ooh, ooh, and I cooked them in the STRAINER, suspended in the broth so I could just lift them out), then puréed in a blender with a few spoonfuls of the broth and a good dollop of sour cream. Strain this into a fresh saucepan (push, scrape, push, scrape). Next, cook a whole head of "fresh" garlic (more mature than spring garlic, not yet papery, but you might want to separate and peel the cloves) along with the washed pea pods in the vegetable broth with salt and pepper to taste. When cooked to your liking, blend it all until smooth (hold down the lid tight; it's hot), and then strain into the saucepan with the peas (push, scrape, push, scrape). Sprinkle with a smidge or two of rice flour and whisk over gentle heat until slightly thickened. Finish with a smoothing pat of butter, stirred through.


s'kat said...

Ah, the veritable patience of a saint.

cookiecrumb said...

Yes, and it was heavenly!

Dagny said...

Every now and then while shopping, I think, "Wouldn't it be nice to own a Chinois?" Then I look at the price and decide that there must be a less expensive way of achieving the same results.