A Spider Wok Skimmer Can Be Used To Create 'Bird's Nest' Fries

The perfect tool for deep frying seafood, scooping up tender gnocchi, and blanching vegetables, a spider wok skimmer is a versatile piece of kitchen equipment that deserves its place in your utensil jar. Constructed of fine mesh, its wide surface area makes it ideal for lifting large volumes of food out of pots of hot water and bubbling vats of oil in one fell swoop, unlike a slotted spoon or pair of tongs. But did you know that the metal latticework of a spider wok skimmer is also useful for making delicious edible bowls of fried potato, known as "bird's nest" fries?

This scrumptious carby basket is often made with string potatoes (that resemble the thin, intertwined twigs in a bird's nest) and a strainer. However, the metal framework of a spider wok skimmer conducts heat into the shoestring fries more effectively, helping them to set in a curved bowl shape as they sizzle. Once the nests are tender in the center and crispy on the exterior, they make the yummiest vessels for beef stir fry, spicy chaat, or virtually anything else that takes your fancy. In fact, these crispy potato bowls are also extremely good for breakfast — they make the perfect receptacle for a coddled egg with a deliciously jammy yolk. Indeed, anything that complements a regular serving of frites pairs well with the crispy texture of bird's nest fries. 

You'll need string potatoes to make bird's nest fries

The strands of potato used to make bird's nest fries need to be super fine so they can be laid across the contours of the spider wok skimmer in a thin layer and take on the shape of the bowl. To achieve uniform frites that are all the same thickness, prepare your potatoes with a mandoline fitted with the julienne attachment. Identical fries will cook through at the same rate to create an even, golden basket with crispy edges.

Rinse and dry your potatoes before tossing in a spoonful of cornstarch to make them extra crunchy (feel free to customize here with dry spices, like paprika or chili powder, if you want to add more flavor). Then dip your spider wok skimmer in the hot oil, remove it, and line it with the fries before gently lowering it back down into your pan of oil. At this point, you can place another slightly smaller spider wok skimmer on top to hold the fries down or use a large ladle to apply gentle pressure to the surface. Once the fries start to crisp up and take on the shape of the skimmer you can remove the ladle or second spider that's been resting on top. 

When your bird's nest is cooked through and golden it's ready to be filled with practically anything you can think of. Try piling in some chicken curry, pan-fried seafood, or a veggie stir fry.