Fish Spatulas Are Actually Perfect For Cooking Pancakes

Have you ever seen an odd-looking tool and wondered what it was used for? You may have heard the saying "the right tool for the job," and indeed, many kitchen tools are made with a specific purpose in mind. One of these is the spatula. MasterClass writes that the word is derived from the Greek spathe, meaning blade — but you'll be flipping, scraping, spreading, and mixing with a spatula more than cutting. It also explains that what many home cooks call spatulas are actually turners, particularly if they're flat, rigid, and usually made of heat-resistant metal: intended primarily to turn over hot items while cooking or perhaps stir food and scrape skillets.

On the other hand, Spatulas can be made from soft materials like silicone and come in various styles. One of these is the fish spatula. Fish spatulas (also known as fish slices) resemble the fins of their namesake with their angled blades and long vertical slots, but they're named for their primary use — flipping delicate fish while cooking (per MasterClass). These unique utensils are flexible in more ways than one; fish spatulas are a very versatile tool that resourceful chefs use for all kinds of things. One of these is for making a classic breakfast favorite: pancakes. Here's why.

Shaping up to be your new favorite kitchen tool

Consider the anatomy of the fish spatula. It's broad yet very thin, making it simple to get between your pan and food without a fuss. This is especially important if you're cooking fish at high heat, with skin that can easily tear (and what a tragedy to damage that crispy deliciousness), or aiming for fried eggs without breaking the precious yolk. As most home chefs know, this is a common mistake that cannot be undone. Likewise, fish spatulas are perfect for crêpes and pancakes, which famously need to be flipped.

A fish spatula's blade surface is wide enough to carry the weight of an entire partly-cooked pancake without squishing into the yet-uncooked part of it. The flexibility of the fish spatula also helps here; try this with a clunky turner, and you'll wind up with an ugly, mushed mess when what you want is Instagram-worthy, golden-brown griddle goodness. In the heat of the battle, a trusty fish spatula won't let you down. Try it with Ree Drummond's perfect pancakes, Ina Garten's banana sour cream pancakes, or Gordon Ramsay's buttermilk pancakes — he does have a sweet side, after all.

More ways to use a fish spatula

There are many other ways you can put your fish spatula to work. Food Network explains (via Katie Lee Biegel) that they're suitable for browning meat and crushing tomatoes into a sauce. The Better Fish says that the slots of a fish spatula allow liquid to drain out — useful for poaching, draining oil, and even cutting brownies. When buying fish spatulas, look for quality. New West Knifeworks offers options praised in the Wall Street Journal for their durability, craftsmanship, and aesthetics — who doesn't like to cook and look good? Food Network reminds us that you can get right- and left-handed spatulas. Just be sure not to use a metal fish spatula in a nonstick pan, The Better Fish cautions — instead, seek out a silicone or silicone-edged fish spatula.

Now that you know you need a fish spatula in your arsenal, you'll be well-equipped for everything from breakfast to baking to barbecuing: see Jamie Oliver's sunny-side-up eggs, Rachael Ray's fudgy brownies, or Alton Brown's simply grilled salmon steaks — the Good Eats star endorses kitchen tools that serve many purposes. Arm yourself with a fish spatula, and you'll flip over how awesome it is.