A good friend who frequently comes for dinner was recently invited to a very exclusive health spa by a generous relative. The spa was of the medical type (as opposed to the boot camp or pseudo-yoga type) and the doctors there had put the fear of death into him.
He’d been persuaded to give up practically everything – ‘nothing raw after four’, carbohydrates, meat, dairy…. It made him very difficult to cook for, and he’d also given up alcohol, which made him a little tedious, at least in the eyes of the lightly tiddly.
Why bother? The spiraliser as an aid to reducing calories
With a philosophic sigh I began looking into how I could produce less calorific concoctions without compromising on taste. And my first port of call was to investigate the latest kitchen fad, the spiraliser.
What is a spiraliser and which is the best on the market if you feel you absolutely must have one?
A spiraliser for the somehow uninitiated (where have you been?) is a gadget which enables you to manufacture vegetable ribbons. The idea is that you substitute these for devilishly fattening spaghetti or tagliatelle with a self-satisfied saintly flourish.
The best of the lot is, according to almost all the surveys I found, the Benriner Cook Help Spiraliser (from www.ukjuicers.com). This is a fiendish sharp and effective Japanese-made spiraliser which can even beribbon a butternut squash. There were warnings that fitting the blades might be found to be a bit fiddly by some. It costs a mere £60 – or 80 euro. You want the vertical version, which is cheaper in any case, because the vegetable is placed above the blade, and gravity speeds up the whole process. Also, in this position it’s easier to hold the vegetable firm with a spike, enabling the entire vegetable to be cut to ribbons.
Other good, less costly, gadgets are the Hemsley + Hemsley (from Hemsley + Hemsley) and the Spiralz (from Amazon) which both look exactly the same and the Lurch Attila Hildmann Vegetable Spiralizer (also from Amazon which probably has the best range of spiralisers). They can’t manage really hard vegetables such as celeriac or squash, they are tricky for left-handers, and they hold the vegetable horizontally. That enables them to cope with vegetables which are not thin and narrow, holding them in place with a metal ring, but this ring cuts a core about a centimetre wide – if you’re talking of a carrot you’ll lose half the vegetable.
What is the better alternative?
I had my doubts about the whole concept. I’ve had cupboards full of smokers, ice cream machines and foaming syphons and these days I am older and wiser.
So, for only £3.55 I experimented with an ordinary julienne peeler. This is a potato-peeler-like piece of kit which produces vegetable ribbons, manually, and in thankfully less gargantuan quantities than the dedicated gadgets which turn out veritable seas of green.
I have to admit to being rather positively surprised by the results especially when used with something longish and fat, like a courgette or a cucumber, or even a carrot. It’s easier than peeling a potato. So this is the thing to go for – it’s cheap, it’s quick (one courgette took less than a minute) it takes up no room, and it’s not fiddly. What’s not to like?
For more recipe inspiration read Inspiralised by Ali Malucci.
In the time it takes to play The Prophet from Lauren MacColl’s latest album Strewn With Ribbons you could have shredded some four or five courgettes.