I can't live without ginger paste. It's the base for my cilantro chutney, a key element in one of my favorite cups of chai, and a staple ingredient in my potstickers and strawberry-rhubarb jam. So when a simple kitchen task like grating ginger on a microplane results in gashed fingers, I get a little annoyed. For one, it really hurts, and it also ruins a perfectly good pile of grated ginger.
The odds are stacked against me. If I need more than a teaspoon of ginger, there is a 50 percent chance I will shred my fingers (100 percent if I'm having a cocktail while cooking) on the Microplane. Plus, it hurts my wrist to use and it's annoyingly difficult to dislodge the fibers from the Microplane's teeth. Yes, I know I could chop it finely with my knife. But you're assuming my knives get sharpened way more than once a year (typically around Thanksgiving).
My Indian aunties use a tiny food processor like this one to make the ginger-garlic paste they keep in their fridge for cooking everything from crispy spinach bhajia to methi thepla to chole. But it's not able to purée a small amount of ginger — only Indian auntie-sized batches. And I have to do some serious kitchen purging before I'm allowed to bring in another machine.
Japanese Ceramic Grater: A Tiny but Mighty Unitasker
But then I discovered a Japanese ceramic ginger grater and it was like the clouds parted and angels started singing Beyonce. It's basically a small ceramic dish that has a bunch of raised sharp teeth in the center (that won't cut you) and a rubber ring on the bottom that prevents it from moving. You rub peeled ginger in a circle on the teeth, and they catch the fibers while pushing juice and ginger paste into a trough around the edges. It's easy to use, saves my fingers, and enables my ginger addiction. I've found most ginger fiber slides off under hot running water, but when it doesn't, a quick scrub with the free toothbrush my dentist gives me does the trick.
Now, I hear your shouts of "Unitasker!" and you are right: This is unitasker. It only grates ginger and daikon radish really well. But here's the thing: It's 3 1/2 inches big. It's the size of a coaster, takes up almost no space, and it does its job well. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt tracked his use of kitchen equipment for a year and found that unitaskers were the most-used items in his kitchen.
I still have a scar on my right index finger from my last dance with a Microplane, a small circle of skin that was scraped off during a recipe-testing session that needed a lot of ginger. This one was particularly deep, and it messed up my kitchen game for at least a month afterwards.
That's because fingers are the ultimate multitasker in the kitchen. I use them for everything: to hold a knife to chop apples, to knead bread dough to the perfect consistency, and to high-five friends. Without fingers, my hands are useless, and nothing is worse than having a non-functioning multitasker. So when I meet a small tool that can change my ginger game and save my most-valued kitchen multitasker? I am all about it.
Ceramic ginger graters for life.