Here's how to get the most from your ginger while staying safe in the kitchen.
One of the first lessons you’ll learn in culinary school — before the flames are lit, before the knives are sharpened, before any food touches a cutting board — is the importance of safety. Spatial awareness is key. Understanding how a kitchen functions, how the people within it move, is necessary. So is a healthy respect for your tools, especially anything with a blade. Choosing the right tool for the job helps anyone do it better. Which is why I always pick a spoon instead of a peeler when I’ve got ginger on my cutting board.
Whether you’re cooking up some cozy winter soups, like our Chicken Soup with Ginger and Cilantro or Restorative Ginger and Turmeric Noodle Soup, or rustling up a warming cocktail on a chilly winter night, ginger adds a foundational layer of piquancy, warmth, and peppery sweetness to whatever it touches. It’s at home with alliums and aromatics in curry pastes, and with honey and lemon in soothing sippers. It’s a staple in my weekly shopping list, especially when I’m able to find especially sweet and tender young ginger at farm stands. But peeling it can be a pain.
Some recipes, like this Thai-Inspired Turkey Green Curry, call for minced ginger — in a pinch, you can get away with simply grating the ginger, skin-on, into the aromatics, discarding whatever skins the grater catches. But for a smoother bite, or recipes that call for peeled slices or chunks of the rhizome, turn to a trusty spoon for the safest, easiest, and closest shave. As Anna Theoktisto, one of the lead recipe developers for Food & Wine puts it, points out that using a spoon means there is less of a chance of cutting yourself and is the most effective, noting, “the skin is so thin it comes right off the rhizome.”
So how do you properly peel with a spoon? Instead of trying to shove a peeler in and around the nooks and crannies of a knob of ginger, gently press the edge of a spoon against the skin and pull down. The skin will come right off, without bringing along too much of the rhizome itself. It’s as easy — and safe — as that.