Kitchn Love Letters

As Someone Who Cooks for a Living, This $18 Kitchen Tool Is My Go-To For So Many Meals

published Mar 3, 2022
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Female chef preparing food at stove in restaurant kitchen
Credit: Getty Images/Thomas Barwick

When I was a line cook, my most dreaded task was mincing lemon zest. I had to peel lemons, line up the strips of zest in a neat row to be julienned, and rock my knife back and fourth for twenty minutes until I was left with golden dust. In short: It was a serious, time-consuming workout. This arm- and wrist-wrenching experience is why my microplane is now my most prized, can’t-live-without kitchen tool. It saves so much time and muscle strain, and I promise, every home cook needs one.

Mincing ingredients like ginger, garlic, and lemon is important for distributing flavor evenly throughout a dish. Simple, right? However, a wise chef once warned me that the more knife cuts used to achieve a proper mince, the more that flavor is actually being released onto the cutting board, rather than into the food. With my microplane, though, I can grate ingredients into a super fine mince directly into a pot or bowl to catch all that flavor.

I prefer this wide-faced microplane because it diversifies what I can grate, zest, and finely mince. This is especially important for ingredients like stone fruits, root vegetables, and whole spices. I also use my microplane to grate hard cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano into fluffy and delicate wisps, a textural necessity for dishes like cacio e pepe and carbonara. Pro tip: When you’re making a dish with so few ingredients, it’s important to make each one count. Opt for quality cheese by the chunk, and then manually grate for these recipes.

My microplane is great for garnishing, too. Lots of my meals get topped off with a sprinkling of lime, lemon, orange, or grapefruit zest (citrus is king!). Not only will this make your grain bowl, scrambled eggs, chicken breasts, or simple bowl of soup more beautiful, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the deep and natural floral flavor that a quick grating of a lemon brings to a dish. If you’re adventurous, try topping your next bolognese with a dusting of grated whole nutmeg. It’s an oddly delicious pairing!

I don’t stop there. I regularly use my microplane to make flavorful salad dressings. I will often whisk grated ingredients like jalapeños, radishes, carrots, apples, and shallots into oil and vinegar. My sauces and marinades definitely get a major flavor upgrade when I use this easy tool. My knife can use a break, anyway, and I’m sure yours could too.

My microplane has always come in handy for the time it saves me mincing garlic, grating lemon zest, and so much more. But I recently discovered a new use and had to put it to the test. Have you seen the grated hard-boiled egg trend all over Instagram and TikTok? All I’ll say is this: I suggest getting this microplane and trying it out yourself.