Why Do Pinoys Place A Spoon Inside The Pot When Cooking?

This old wives' tale has some grain of truth.

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Have you ever seen a metal spoon or fork in the pot when someone is cooking? Maybe you have seen a relative or even your parents drop a spoon in a simmering pot of meat and leave it there as it simmered? 

You're not alone. There are many Filipino home cooks who do this and some even continue to do this. The belief behind this unique kitchen trick is this: placing a metal spoon in the pot will help tenderize the meat faster. The theory is based on the fact that water is a poor conductor of heat. Since metal heats up better and faster than water or any liquid for that matter, the metal will help the meat tenderize faster since it will heat up better. 

Use a fork for more than just eating.
Photo by quincymahangi from Pixabay

So, is a spoon or a fork an effective meat tenderizer? 

While this kitchen hack sounds like an old wive's tale, it does have some merit. However, you have to do more than merely place a spoon in the pot to help tenderize the meat faster. The metal has to go through the meat to do as it claims. This works on the same theory that metal conducts heat better and will thus help the meat tenderize faster. However, to do that, it should be doing it from both the inside as well as the outside of the meat. Plus, while metal can be heated upwards to over 2000 degrees F or 1000 degrees C, water boils at 212 degrees F or 100 degrees C and beyond that, it is transformed into steam. Thus, the temperature of the metal spoon doesn't heat up very much beyond the water's temperature while in the water. 

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What it can do is make it easier for the heat to penetrate the inside of the meat so it can cook at the same time as the outside. So cooking it from the inside at the same time as the outside will make it cook and thus, tenderize faster.  

Want to test the theory? Here's how: In a pot of simmering water, add two large pieces of meat, one with a metal skewer through it and another without for about 5 to 10 minutes. Take both pieces of meat out and slice the meat in half. You'll notice that the meat around the metal skewer is beginning to cook through while the meat without the skewer is still raw on the inside.   


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