Simply described, this tool is a small, metal strainer, slightly cupped, made with thin wires which are woven together into a super-fine mesh. The small strainer is attached a to a long handle for easy maneuvering.
As its name indicates, the oil scooper is used to remove excess oil from your soups. The wire mesh has extremely tiny holes which allow only water and/or soup broth to strain through, leaving the oil, fat, and other small particles behind for easy disposal.
Although some fat is good for you and can add flavour and texture to soups, too much fat (especially animal fat) can make soups unpleasant to drink. Even if you blanch the meat before boiling, it is still possible to have too much undesired oil in your soup after it is finished cooking.
How to Use the Oil Scooper
To remove the excess oil, when your soup is finished cooking, open the lid and let the soup sit briefly. In a few minutes, the excess oil will float to the top where it can be easily scooped out with the oil scooper (or a spoon, although using a spoon is more time consuming).
To remove small particles from your soup, when the soup is on full boil, use the scooper to pick up small particles which may be pushed to the surface of your soup by the boiling water. Some small particles can make your soup less pleasant to drink and may include skin (which has come off the meat or tomato skin which easily falls off cooked, sliced tomatoes), seeds, leaves and other herbs.
Click here to see a video of the oil scooper being used.
Buying an Oil Scooper
This tool can be surprisingly difficult to find. I have purchased it for $2.00 CAD at a local dollar store in Toronto. I have also seen a similar tool sold online for $20 on Amazon.com.
Is it really called an “Oil Scooper”?
I’m sure there is an “official” name for this kitchen tool (perhaps strainer or skimmer), but for me, it is exclusively used as an “oil scooper”. In Cantonese, it is used to “peet yao” 撇油 (scoop oil) –hence its name.
As you can see from the photo, this is a well-used and well-loved utensil and I use it for almost every soup I make… and that’s a lot of soups!