Mine may look a little munted (it is much used and much loved), but I highly recommend this simple piece of equipment. What is it? A splatter screen is a round, flat piece of metal mesh with a long handle. Placed over a frying pan it will stop splatters leaping out of the pan (about 75% of them anyway; tiny particles of fat will still be able to escape through the mesh). It makes clean-up a lot faster after cooking. When cooking sweet corn fritters it will stop popping corn kernels exploding out of the pan, and when browning pumpkin seeds it will keep them confined to the pan. Likewise, when a recipe instruction tells you to cook mustard seeds until they ‘pop’, you’ll keep them in the pan instead of finding them all around your kitchen for the next month.
If you put a lid on top of a pan when frying, splatters would be contained, but steam would build up on the lid and eventually drip down creating a lot of hissing and eventually it would slow down or stop the frying. Steam can pass through the mesh of a splatter screen so frying is not hindered.
Failing a splatter screen, a piece of paper towel (kitchen paper) also works well because steam can escape around the sides of the paper. However, if you cook with gas this can be extremely dangerous, as the flame may ignite the paper. Do not do it!