Why A Fish Spatula Isn't As Much Of A One-Trick Pony As You'd Think

Its name might suggest a limited repertoire, but a fish spatula proves to be a kitchen companion that excels in a variety of culinary tasks. If you have never heard of this tool, it has a thin angled blade and slotted design that allows you to slip under a fillet without damaging its delicate structure. This precision is crucial for achieving a perfectly seared, crispy edge. 

While its primary function is ideal for maneuvering delicate fish fillets, its capabilities extend far beyond, making it an invaluable addition to any cook's toolkit. Aside from seafood, a fish spatula finds its place at the breakfast table. Its thin edge and flexibility are perfect for flipping pancakes, ensuring they're evenly browned without the risk of tearing. It also works for turning items like burgers and latkes, or for removing brownies or anything that tends to slightly stick from a pan.

Furthermore, fish spatulas come to the rescue when you're frying food. Its slots allow excess oil to drain away so it can function as a makeshift basket, making it a useful tool for retrieving fried foods from hot oil. Its thin, flexible edge proves handy for scraping cold pans and griddles so you can loosen any bits that are stuck for an easy cleanup. 

The origin of the fish spatula

Similar to numerous other kitchen utensils, the design and prominence of fish spatulas have undergone a transformative journey. The roots of this culinary instrument can be traced back to sometime during the Iron Age. Early on it was referred to as a fish slice and its purpose was primarily to facilitate flipping or turning fish during and after the cooking process. 

Originally, it was made with silver or Sheffield steel to avoid tainting the taste of fish. The fish slice came from the design of the pudding trowel, which was developed around the 1700s. However, the question remains as to whether the design of the original spatula played a part in the evolution of the fish slice. As for the modern-day mass-marketed spatula, it was invented in 1887 by John Spadula. 

Legend has it that the invention arose after Spadula sustained an injury while working as a chef's apprentice. He apparently did not add enough beets to a stew, prompting the chef to slam his finger into a pot, impaling his hand and resulting in a loss of sensation in parts of his fingers. Despite this setback, several early versions of the spatula were created due to the incident. Eventually, these creations led to the contemporary kitchen utensil we use today, the fish spatula.