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Using microplane grater for garlic and ginger

c oliver Feb 13, 2013 11:35 AM

(If everyone already knows about this, don't beat me up, okay?!?)

I was making mapo tofu last night and the instructions were to grate the ginger and garlic with the microplane grater. This was a revelation to me. To the point that I'm probably getting rid of my garlic press. They were about the consistency of a puree so combined with the other ingredients beautifully. No little zings of either flavor. At my age, it's the little things that mean a lot :)

  1. a
    alliaphagist Feb 20, 2013 02:58 PM

    I have mixed feelings about it. I just recently got a microplane, and the very first thing I used it for was garlic. And I'm not sure I liked it.

    How do you peel the garlic? Normally I would smash it with the flat of knife, pull the paper away, and mince from there. But with a microplane it seems like you need the clove to be intact to give you something to hold on to. And peeling garlic takes forever for me otherwise.

    What do you do with last nub of the clove? That's somelike like 10% of the whole thing. Do you mince it with a knife? Then why didn't you mince the whole thing with a knife? Surely that would be faster and you wouldn't dirty two things.

    Does it basically turn to garlic paste for everyone else using a microplane? I've used two different ones, one wider than the other, but I think they have the same holes. And garlic (and ginger) just turn to mush when I use them, which is fine I guess, but it means that it really coats ever bit of my fingers and the microplane, so I end up losing more of it, and my fingers smell like garlic for a week.

    11 Replies
    1. re: alliaphagist
      Chemicalkinetics Feb 20, 2013 03:38 PM

      <How do you peel the garlic? Normally I would smash it with the flat of knife, pull the paper away, and mince from there. But with a microplane it seems like you need the clove to be intact to give you something to hold on to. And peeling garlic takes forever for me otherwise.>

      What I did is to smash the garlic very lightly. This way I get the paper skin off without smashing the garlic. Truth be told, I did not use this technique for microplane. I was using this method long before for other usages.

      <What do you do with last nub of the clove?>

      Agree with you there. Not much can be done here.

      <And garlic (and ginger) just turn to mush when I use them>

      It does. The Microplane produces a very different texture than smashing with a knife. Sam, in more than one occasion, had expressed his displeasure of microplane. He prefers to use Japanese ginger grater for this sort of thing:




      I really like Microplane for making garlic butter for garlic butter. Other than that, I prefer using a knife blade.

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
        grampart Feb 20, 2013 03:44 PM

        See my post above. This tool does a perfect job on garlic without turning it to mush although you could do that if you wished (like for the garlic bread butter).

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
          c oliver Feb 20, 2013 04:35 PM

          Can I assume you meant to use the past tense when referring to Sam? Hard to believe that it's coming up on three years since we lost him.

          I do what you do and smash the garlic only enough to remove the skin. As I mentioned, for most purposes I slice so I also want the close to be relatively intact.

          1. re: c oliver
            Chemicalkinetics Feb 20, 2013 04:44 PM

            I don't know if I should have written "Sam had expressed" or "Sam has expressed". Right or wrong, I meant to use the past perfect tense because he has passed away.

            Has it been three years now? It seems shorter for some odd reasons.

            Yes, often I like to use garlic slice, and completely smash the garlic won't do. Thus, I have learn that I only need to lightly hit the garlic to get the paper skin off.


            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              c oliver Feb 20, 2013 05:27 PM

              Oh, you just wrote he "prefers." Three years in April. Hard to believe.

              Definitely doesn't take muscle to get the skin off of the garlic.

              1. re: c oliver
                Chemicalkinetics Feb 20, 2013 05:35 PM

                <Oh, you just wrote he "prefers." >

                Talk about inconsistency. ;)

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  c oliver Feb 20, 2013 08:02 PM

                  Unless ? he's with us.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                c oliver Feb 20, 2013 05:30 PM

                Oh, you just wrote "prefers." Yep. Three years in April. Hard to believe.

                Definitely doesn't take muscle when you're smacking that clove :)

          2. re: alliaphagist
            blackpippi Feb 20, 2013 04:53 PM

            Shake the garlic to peel it!


            1. re: alliaphagist
              earthygoat Feb 20, 2013 05:04 PM

              When I'm in a hurry, I don't peel the garlic, I just microplane the whole clove and the peel just stays behind. Maybe a tiny bit gets into the food, but no one notices.

              1. re: earthygoat
                c oliver Feb 20, 2013 06:14 PM

                Really? I gotta try that. Thanks.

            2. EWSflash Feb 19, 2013 06:28 PM

              I like my garlic press for garlic, otherwise i love my microplane graters and have them in several textures.

              1. grampart Feb 19, 2013 05:12 PM

                I have 2 microplanes and the small one is perfect for nutmeg, but for garlic........http://www.amazon.com/GARLIC-TWIST-CR...

                1. s
                  serialdiner Feb 19, 2013 04:49 PM

                  If you want to be more amazed, freeze the knob of ginger and microplane it from frozen. It's even easier and the ginger lasts in the freezer for months if it's wrapped properly.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: serialdiner
                    HillJ Feb 19, 2013 04:49 PM

                    I do the same for stalks of lemongrass.

                    1. re: serialdiner
                      c oliver Feb 19, 2013 05:38 PM


                    2. b
                      blackpippi Feb 19, 2013 11:16 AM

                      This is the total opposite of what you are talking about, but I've switched to a mini food chopper for ginger, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.
                      I don't make anything as delicate as mapo tofu (whatever that is), but for stir fries and pasta dishes, the chopper does what I need, and fast. Then I just throw it in the dishwasher.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: blackpippi
                        c oliver Feb 19, 2013 01:29 PM

                        For almost all pasta and stir-fries, I use sliced garlic. Learn that from Batali and like the results.

                        1. re: c oliver
                          blackpippi Feb 19, 2013 05:51 PM

                          I cook almost every night and always virtually from scratch, except for a can of tomatoes or dried pasta or what not. I have just found that whatever I'm doing is so much better than its frozen, jarred, or prepackaged cousins.
                          But I'm certainly not sitting down and carefully tasting the nuances between garlic that's sliced, diced, or microplaned. I greatly enjoy cooking, and I love having friends over who truly light up at a home cooked meal, but I get a kick out of knowing that I have the skills to do something supreme, but also knowing that for a Tuesday night meal the subtle nuances just aren't worth the effort.

                          1. re: blackpippi
                            c oliver Feb 19, 2013 06:07 PM

                            Oh, I hear you and agree. It's just unusual for me to need more than a very few cloves of garlic at a time. Under a minute of slicing. The microplane just gave me something finer than any other method I'm aware of. In that particular dish, I think it was a nice sublety. YMMV of course.

                            1. re: c oliver
                              blackpippi Feb 19, 2013 06:23 PM

                              Oh, thank god. I posted that and thought this isn't really the post to talk about "what's good enough." And, honestly, next time I'm using ginger I'll be testing the microphone. AND it's nice to know if I'm cooking at a friends house maybe the MP is the only tool they will have. Anything is better than chopping ginger/garlic by hand. Thanks for the tip!!!!

                              1. re: blackpippi
                                c oliver Feb 19, 2013 06:37 PM

                                And isn't it fun to give our friends a little WOW :)

                      2. b
                        ButterYum Feb 15, 2013 10:39 PM

                        In addition to using a microplane to finely grate garlic, ginger, and chocolate, it does a superb job finely grating citrus zest.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ButterYum
                          c oliver Feb 16, 2013 07:44 AM

                          After cheese, that's my next most used. After using that, my zester can probably go away also.

                        2. scubadoo97 Feb 15, 2013 12:19 PM

                          When I first got into Indian cooking which required a lot of finely grated garlic and ginger I used my microplane which was not only quick but also turned a knob of ginger into a nice puree

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: scubadoo97
                            lagatta Feb 15, 2013 04:16 PM

                            And a knob of finger?

                            Seriously, I love my microplanes. Have at least four. Don't find the fine one very dangerous, as the tips of my dominant hand fingers (I'm left-handed) have calluses from cooking, artwork and even long hours on the computer for rush work. The ones with large holes can take quite a bit of skin and flesh - be careful.

                            1. re: lagatta
                              scubadoo97 Feb 16, 2013 03:29 AM

                              Ive gotten some nasty cuts using a box grater. Microplane, not so much

                              1. re: scubadoo97
                                c oliver Feb 16, 2013 07:39 AM

                                I find with the microplane that when I get down to the end, I hold, say, the garlic with the flat of my index finger rather than between thumb and forefinger.

                                1. re: c oliver
                                  pine time Feb 16, 2013 08:14 AM

                                  I've tried with the flat of the index finger,too, only to sliver off several layers of skin (have done the same--repeatedly--with a mandoline). Finally gave up and bought the kevlar gloves--took awhile to get used to the bulk, but I haven't cut myself since.

                          2. b
                            bobbert Feb 14, 2013 11:40 AM

                            Just be very careful. Those microplaners are great at microplaning fingertips.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: bobbert
                              c oliver Feb 15, 2013 02:04 PM

                              My mandoline scares me far more :(

                              1. re: c oliver
                                EWSflash Feb 19, 2013 06:30 PM


                                1. re: c oliver
                                  bobbert Feb 19, 2013 07:41 PM

                                  By far the most dangerous tool in the kitchen.

                                  1. re: bobbert
                                    Chemicalkinetics Feb 19, 2013 07:50 PM

                                    Someone need to explain to me why a mandoline is more dangerous than a microplane

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                      c oliver Feb 19, 2013 08:08 PM

                                      Honestly? I agree with you. Use the "guard" and you're fine.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                        sunshine842 Feb 20, 2013 12:27 AM

                                        only in the potential for tissue loss, I suppose -- a microplane hurts like holy hell, but it rarely removes an entire fingertip.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                          bobbert Feb 20, 2013 12:46 AM

                                          The microplane might actually hurt more because it just rips the tips of the nerve endings whereas the mandoline slices off the entire nerve. I've actually hurt myself with my microplane but am so scared of my mandoline that I'm way careful with it and have yet to cut myself but I have seen someone cut themselve with one -not a pretty sight.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                            scubadoo97 Feb 20, 2013 03:36 AM

                                            Yes all this talk about microplanes and mandolines being dangerous. None are any more dangerous than your kitchen knife. Just use good technique and use common sense. A Kevlar glove for some.

                                            Sure we all go too fast and sometimes we hurt ourselves and wine or other alcohol mixed with food prep can be dangerous but such is life. I'm sure every cook has cut themselves at some point. It happens

                                            I keep bandaids and superglue in the kitchen drawer. I know every once in a while I'll need them. Been on a good streak recently. Fingers crossed

                                            1. re: scubadoo97
                                              c oliver Feb 20, 2013 07:50 AM

                                              Knock wood :)

                                              I still have a little 'dent' in my left index finger from sloppy knife work. The only time (more knocking) I've cut myself with the mandoline, I wasn't using the 'guard' and was paying more attention to Bob talking on the phone to one of our daughters.

                                              1. re: scubadoo97
                                                Chemicalkinetics Feb 20, 2013 07:58 AM

                                                Thanks for the replies, c oliver, sunshine, bobbert and scubadoo. I must disclose that I have one microplane, but own no mandoline (used one a couple of times). I have my microplane comes close to cutting my flesh, but never actually did. I have definitely read many comments about the dangerous of a mandolin.

                                                Between microplanes, mandolines, and knives, I can see how one is more dangerous than others -- depending on the definition of dangerous.

                                                I see a kitchen knife being the least dangerous when it comes to occurance. It is easier to control a kitchen knife, and it is easier to keep the fingers away from the knife's cutting motion, whereas fingers are constantly toward a microplane and a mandoline.

                                                On the other hand, I can also understand a kitchen knife being the most dangerous in term of potential damage. A kitchen knife can cut deep to the bone and possibly cut off a finger. It is impossible for a microplane or a mandoline does that level of damage.

                                                Let's face it. If and when a robber breaks into my house, a microplane isn't going to be first I grab to defend myself against the intruder.

                                                "Hold it there, Mr. I got a microplane and I know how to use it. I will give you 3 seconds to walk out of that door or I will come after you with this microplane."

                                                The robber may just leave me alone after feeling sorry for me -- being how pathetic I am.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                  c oliver Feb 20, 2013 09:15 AM

                                                  Chortle :)

                                                  For safety reasons, I've initiated a new policy for myself. If Bob and I are in the kitchen at the same time, when I carry a knife across the room, I hold it pointing up and higher than usual. Less chance of stabbing him!

                                      2. sunshine842 Feb 14, 2013 08:46 AM

                                        I happened to have my microplane in my hand so decided to try the garlic on it. The heavens parted, the light shone down, and the choir sang....

                                        I haven't owned a garlic press in 25 years -- and this "discovery" (well, it was new to ME) reinforced that I don't need one.

                                        I have two, one large, one small, and I use them both all the time. Better than a few unitaskers cluttering the drawer.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                          c oliver Feb 14, 2013 12:35 PM

                                          You're so funny!

                                          We do house exchanges and one of the things I always take with me is the microplane grater.

                                          And do you know to hold it "upside down" from how you (well, I anyway) grate cheese and it remains on the grater. That was another revelation for me.

                                        2. w
                                          wincountrygirl Feb 14, 2013 08:37 AM

                                          I find the grating garlic on the micro plane to be the best method too. It really gets well incorporated into the dish, as opposed to those big wads of garlic you can get with a press.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: wincountrygirl
                                            chefj Feb 14, 2013 08:40 AM

                                            You may need a better Garlic Press, I get a almost smooth purée from mine.

                                          2. h
                                            Harters Feb 14, 2013 08:31 AM

                                            I use the microplane for ginger but prefer the press for garlic (where it's not as easy to avoid grating your fingertips).

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Harters
                                              chefj Feb 14, 2013 08:39 AM

                                              and no peeling!

                                              1. re: Harters
                                                pine time Feb 14, 2013 08:42 AM

                                                Yup, I've had to use the Liquid Skin for bleeding knuckles many times when I've microplaned garlic. I'm such a klutz. So, I occasionally microplane garlic (also use it for ginger), but still use the old reliable garlic press, too.

                                              2. Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2013 08:18 AM

                                                Yep, I use microplane from time to time for garlic and ginger. It is a nice tool. More often, though, I smash garlic and ginger with a knife blade. I do have a garlic press, but I have not been using it for a long time.

                                                1. f
                                                  foodieX2 Feb 13, 2013 11:42 AM

                                                  agreed! It's the little things. I felt the same way when I saw the video for peeling a boatload of garlic at once. It changed my life, LOL.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: foodieX2
                                                    Scoutmaster Feb 13, 2013 08:47 PM

                                                    I have 3 different microplanes and use them all the time for garlic, parm, nutmeg. etc.

                                                  2. melpy Feb 13, 2013 11:42 AM

                                                    When we moved in November, the garlic press went in the donate/sell box. Haven't looked back.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: melpy
                                                      c oliver Feb 13, 2013 12:04 PM

                                                      Just put mine in that box!

                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                        trolley Feb 13, 2013 12:08 PM

                                                        the garlic press is good for the little ones to play with playdough.

                                                        1. re: trolley
                                                          HillJ Feb 13, 2013 12:17 PM

                                                          big kids too! I use the press to create clay hair for pots I throw and later embellish.

                                                    2. HillJ Feb 13, 2013 11:38 AM

                                                      Oh I couldn't agree more! Ditto on small onions, scallion bulbs, shallots, nutmeg, nuts, cheese & chocolate in small amounts especially!

                                                      How about a bit more intel on the mapo tofu. I'm not familiar.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: HillJ
                                                        c oliver Feb 13, 2013 12:00 PM

                                                        Oh, cool, even more things! Thanks.


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