The Ultimate Best Kitchen Tool? Your Hands

We've been talking a lot lately about our favorite and least-favorite kitchen tools, but we've forgotten to mention one tool that we use all the time, every day, and without fail: our hands! They're useful for a lot more than just holding a knife or stealing a taste of whipped cream. Do you use your fingers and hands a lot while cooking?

We were reminded of what a big role our hands play while listening to an interview with Chef Daniel Patterson on the Splendid Table this weekend. Here are just a few ways that we (and Chef Patterson) use our hands and sense of touch in the kitchen:

To Toss Salad - Tongs can tear and bruise salad greens, while our fingers are gentle and soft. Plus, we can actually feel when the leaves are adequately coated with dressing.

To Measure Spices - Using the palm of our hand to measure a tablespoon of spice or a three-finger pinch to grab some extra seasoning is actually a lot quicker and easier than rummaging for the right measuring spoon.

To Test Doneness of Meat - Cutting into a steak to see how far it has cooked lets those yummy juices seep out and mangles the meat. A simple touch is a lot more delicate - and trustworthy. With some practice and a few tricks, it's easy to tell when a steak is rare, medium, or well-done.

To Plate Food - Again, tongs can rip food as we transfer it from the cooking dish to the plate. Besides being more gentle, using our fingers gives us a lot more control over where the food goes and how it is arranged on the plate.

Of course, it's just as important to practice proper sanitation when using our hands as with any other piece of kitchen equipment. We are constantly giving our hands a good scrub as we move around the kitchen.

What other ways do you use your hands as a tool during cooking?

• Download and listen to the entire interview with Chef Patterson and the rest of this episode on the Splendid Table website.

Related: Cooking by Feel: Use Your Ears!

(Image: Flickr member ginnerobot licensed under Creative Commons)

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