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A bird's nest fryer is a kitchen utensil designed for use in deep fryers. When used properly, a bird's nest fryer shapes and holds food while it fries, allowing the cook to make basket shaped deep fried foods which do indeed resemble the nests of birds. Typically, the bird's nest is used like a bowl to hold a main course dish. While the concept most commonly appears in Asian food, it can be utilized to great dramatic effect with other foods as well.
The construction of this type of fryer involves two baskets which clamp together. One basket is slightly smaller than the other, and will nestle inside the other during the frying process. The food which is being shaped is placed between the baskets, and the entire assembly is lowered into the deep fryer. In most cases, a bird's nest fryer has a long handle, so that the cook is not exposed to splash back and heat from the deep fryer.
Typically, a bird's nest fryer is made from some type of metal, so that it can withstand the heat of the deep fryer. The baskets are made with as few supports as possible, so that a maximum food area will be exposed to the heat. Some companies make bird's nest fryers with cool grip handles made from materials like silicone, as the metal handle can conduct heat from the deep fryer. After use, the fryer should be allowed to cool completely before washing, either by hand with hot water and soap or in a dishwasher. Thorough washing is important, to prevent greasy buildup.
Some foods are better suited to preparation in a bird's nest fryer than other. Classic choices are cooked rice or wheat noodles and shredded vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, or leeks. A fried vegetable basket is often used to hold mixed vegetables or meats, while a noodle bird nest can be used for the same purpose. This type of fryer is usually not suitable for batters, since they will drip through the baskets before they form, although stiff doughs could be prepared in a bird's nest fryer.
A bird's nest can make a fun presentation for foods like stir fries. The bird's nest is usually prepared at the last minute, so that it does not get cold and oily while it sits. Using a garnish such as finely chopped chives, green onions, or carrots will add flair to the presentation.