Cooking, Culture, Food and Drink

What’s the Most Useful Tool in Your Kitchen?

TBH, I’ve written on a similar topic before in my post The Right Tool for the Job.  But today I’m asking a slightly different question:

What is the one single-purpose tool in your kitchen for which you are most grateful (pun intended) when you have to accomplish a job which, without said tool, would be messy and perhaps injurious?  (TBPC, I don’t generally embrace single-purpose tools, which take up space and aren’t used that often.  But this one rocks, and is totally worth it!)

It’s my ceramic ginger grater, one which looks like this:

5-1/2" x 3" Ceramic Grater

and which is available from Amazon (click the image for the link) for under $10.

I just used it to make my Saturday dinner, a Thai noodle-curry soup which calls for one tablespoon of freshly-grated ginger.  Time was when that instruction would have made me blench, at the thought of shredded fingers, and long, hairy, indigestible bits mixed in with the end product.

No more!  This is what I got when I used my wonderful tool:

To deconstruct what you see above, starting at the lowest level (LOL, sorry to go all Derrida on you–and I do think he’s absurd, in more ways than one):  The table is my small kitchen table.  It’s one I bought as a Christmas present for Mr. Right many years ago (along with the appropriate chairs) to remind him of his much-loved high-school and college years spent working at Pittsburgh’s Isaly dairy and diner chain.  The red mat is one of those flexible plastic cutting boards things.  I love them, because you can use them to chop things on, and then bend them to dump straight into the skillet or Dutch oven.  They can be had on Amazon, here:

Some of the fancier ones (as shown above) are color-coded, presumably so that the sanitarily challenged among us don’t mix chopping the chuck steak on the same surface that we whack the green onions.  I don’t know, and don’t pay much attention to same. (Have you never heard of simply turning it over?)  I do know that, over the past couple of decades, these have conveniently replaced tea towels (in the matter of which I am an impresario and an expert) as the default gift that I’ve taken to my overseas family and friends (flat, light, easy to pack and don’t have much of an impact on customs), and that they’ve always (well, almost always) been gratefully received.  Even he who has been rather churlish about this or any other gift I took to him has, I’ve recently learned, still found them useful.  LOL.  Vivo ut serviam, as my Latin teacher from half-a-century ago might have said.

But I digress.  Imagine my surprise.  Back to the photo, for which I provide a refresher, as we process to the next layer up:

The plate.  It’s a standard Corelle pattern.  I don’t much like Corelle, but in the last many years of his life, Mr. Right found earthenware and even some china, just too difficult and heavy to handle.  So, Corelle it was. (I haven’t quite reached the point where I’m ready to ditch it, but it’s probably approaching.)

And, on top of that, my grater!  Showing how very little of the ginger has been caught on the surface, and how easy it will be to rinse it clean.  No metal.  No finger-shredding.  No picking-out the residue from those little holes in the microplane metal grater contraption thingy (which works spectacularly well for lime and lemon zest, but not for ginger).

At about 8 o’clock, you’ll see a clump of the grated result: soft, non-stringy, and tasty!

And, at about 12 o’clock, the leftovers.  The stringy bits.  All I have to do is squeeze the juice out and throw them away.

Oh, the soup itself? Gorgeous:

Geen Kao!  (If Julia Child were from Thailand, that’s how she’d have said “Bon Appetit!”)  In the Thai alphabet, it looks something like this: “ทานให้อร่อย.”


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