A good pair of tongs is essential to the home kitchen. Perfectly designed for reaching into the heat without getting burnt, they work great for flipping, frying, grilling, and lots of other stuff.
There are three main types of tongs you’ll find in the kitchen. Some are made from just one piece of metal, usually smaller, with flat, sometimes rounded, sometimes square ends. These are the kind you might see used to grab sugar cubes or serve green beans. Some come with cutesy little styled ends.
Scissor tongs are heavier duty, usually seen outside in a grill set. As the name suggests, they’ve got two looped handles that you work much in the same way you would a pair of scissors, to open and to close the long arms (which also typically have a looped or triangular end for grasping).
The most common tongs have long, metal arms that extend out from a pivoting point and end in a shape apt for grabbing—usually flat and circular or oblong, often with a fluted edge (pictured). I recommend getting all-clad, usually around $20.
I’ve used these guys for all kinds of stuff—outside on the grill, fishing a long-lost piece of toast out of the toaster oven, pulling sterilized jar lids out of boiling water, and even holding and lighting a hookah coal.
One thing you have to remember when working with them is to get the locking mechanism in the right position. They usually come with a thin little metal clasp that hooks around the outside to keep the tongs compact when you’re not using them. Slide the clasp upward, and it will hold those long arms snugly together. Slide it down toward the pivoting end, and the two arms will fall open in a “V,” free to open and close as needed.
Make sure the clasp is in the “open” position before you start cooking—those extra few seconds can mean the difference between golden brown and blackened in the heat of the moment. One neat trick I’ve picked up from watching the pros is to keep them hooked over your oven handle before and in between uses. Keep them open if you’re washing by hand, so that you can work your sponge all the way around. Move to the “closed” position if you’re using the dishwasher—these things are particularly skilled at getting jammed.
Need to test a tortellini for doneness? Struggling to pull that little custard cup out of the scorching oven? Get creative with your tongs—they’ll get the job done.