Cooking Tool No. 2:
What’s A Microplane Grater?
A microplane grater is a very very fine grater, sometimes called a “zester.” Good ones will be stainless steel with numerous tiny razor-sharp holes that can cut through hard nuts, bulbs or vegetables with minimal elbow grease on your part. I like the ones with black ergonomic handles.
Microplane graters come in a range of sizes, but I find having the spice grating variety is the most helpful since some of the medium-grate ones are redundant to a standard cheese grater. The fine one is imperative for creating lemon zest and finely minced ginger — two staples in my cooking repertoire.
Although the correct term is “microplane grater,” I have embraced my tendency to incorrectly refer to it as a microplaner. So let’s just go with that term. Once you have a microplaner, you’ll find a dozen other uses for it. For instance, finely minced garlic, chocolate shavings, or fresh nutmeg or cinnamon powder. A fun gift to give to foodies is a cube of sea salt with a fine micoplaner. I bet you didn’t think salt could taste “fresh,” well, it can.
Topping a dish with elegant, microplaned shavings is a quick trick that will elevate your dishes from meh to dazzling in both presentation and flavor. On a more functional note, potent foods like nutmeg and ginger chunks can be unpalatable. Finely mincing them with a microplaner ensures flavors well distributed and that no one will bite down on an unpleasant chuck of fibrous ginger.
Now, to be honest, I’m not exactly worried about grating my own sea salt on a typical hectic Monday night. So sometimes slow Sunday afternoons are the best time to pull out the microplane(r) unless I’m using it for something simple and quick like lemon zest. But that’s what makes the microplane grater a kitchen must-have — it’s a handy tool for basic and sophisticated dinners.