Tools of Refinement

The Chinois and Tamis

Appears in

By Thomas Keller

Published 1999

  • About

Tamis, China cap, chinois

Perhaps the most important pieces of equipment in our kitchen are the chinois—also known in French kitchens as a chinois tamis, or Chinese sieve—and the tamis, sometimes referred to as a drum sieve. The first is a conical fine-mesh sieve that we pass liquids through; the second is a flat fine-mesh sieve that we press puréed solids through.

A tamis prevents lumps and ensures that every particle is the same size. We put a lot of butter (and truffle oil) in mashed potatoes, creating what is in effect an emulsion; potatoes that have been pressed through a tamis will more easily form a stable emulsion. We also press items such as foie gras or anything with veins or skin we don’t want through the tamis to remove impurities.