Stocks, Sauces and soups is the base of all dish. They can transform a ordinary dish to an extraordinary one. A sign of a good stock is a clean and clear one. However, to achieve that, you need to strain it. Most people will automatically reach for a mesh colander. However, restaurant professional have a special tool for this, a Chinois Strainer. Its a conical strainer designed to extract as much liquid as possible. There are quite a few on the market, but the Best Chinois uses a mesh filter with hooks on its feet.
What is a Chinois Strainer?
The most notable thing about a Chinois is its apperance. It resembles the hat that early Chinese Immigrant wore. As a result the French named it aptly. These tools are used wherever a strainer is used. Most are sold by itself but having a wooden pestle will provide the best result. You use it to press food through the mesh. This lets you extract as much liquid as possible.
How to use a Chinois
To use a Chinois get an appropriate sized pot. Tall stock pots are preferable, but if yours have feet, you can use those as well. Strain your liquid, puree through the Chinois. Grab a pestle or wooden spoon and start pressing. Be sure to apply both downward and side pressure. This ensure you get as much liquid as possible.
Perhaps one of the most annoying thing about strainers is cleaning. Food gets trapped in those small mesh making it difficult to get out. What I like to do is invert the Chinois Strainer and then get some pressurized hose. I use my thumb to cover a part of it so that it sprays faster and knock all the stuck on particle out. Once that is gone, then scrub with soap and water.
If you dont have a pressurized hose, then submerge it in water. Let it sit for 30 minutes. With it submerged, grab the nylon sponge and scrub it out. It should get most of the stuff out.
Best Chinois Strainer List
Below, you will find a list of some of the Chinois Strainer on the market. There are a few different configuration available, I have listed them based on categories.
Matfer 17360 Exoglass Bouillon Strainer (Best Overall)
Matfer is a French Manufacturer of kitchen appliance. Their produce are designed to be used in the professional kitchen. This Chinois strainer is no different. It uses plastic handle so it wont get hot and the mesh is finer than the competition. This ensure that no particle will get through and that you will get the cleaning broth/sauce. While it is expensive, it truly is the best on the market. Be sure to get a Pestle as well.
New Star Foodservice 42566 3-Piece Stainless Steel Chinois Strainer (Best Buy)
While Matfer is the best, its also pricey. This model by New Star is a good alternative. The mesh isnt as fine but it will do its just. I recommend lining it with a Muslim cloth for best result. New Star Chinois also have feet so that you can rest it over the bowl. You dont need a giant stock pot to use it. Best of all, it comes with a pestle. You dont have to buy something extra.
Winco China Cap Strainer, 10-Inch Diameter (Best Alternative)
If you already have the pestle and just want something that works, the consider winco. Winco is known as a budget kitchenware appliance. While the finish may be rough, they withstand abuse. This chinois model will give you the same performance minus the feet. Just line it with a cloth and nothing will get through.
If you ever make stocks or sauce in big batches, then a Chinois is a good tool to have. They let you strain liquid quickly and the large cone shape makes it easy to press. I personally think that matfer makes the best in this categories. Its comfortable and the fine mesh will catch most stuff. However, its expensive. A good alternative are by Winco and Star Food. Just line it with a cloth prior to use.
Are the Chinois strainer a little too big? Check out our article on the Best Fine Mesh Strainer.