Word of Mouth: Chinois

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Chinois [sheen-WAH] n. Fine meshed conical strainer used to make smooth soups and sauces.

The word chinois (or chinoise) comes from the French for Chinese. In the kitchen it refers to a very fine mesh strainer that works like a food mill or food processor to strain and smooth soups and sauces. There is a similar tool called a China cap, which is shaped like a chinois, but is made purely of metal with small holes punched in the sides, which gives a slightly chunkier texture.

The two are often confused. Here's a China cap for sale, labeled as a chinois, and here's a chinois at Bed Bath and Beyond for $99.99.

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.