Ok, so, it turns out that I’m not quite done banging on about garlic. Having just insisted that everyone use fresh garlic, I now have a nice tip for you all: the adorable little ceramic ginger grater languishing in the back of your gadget drawer actually does an even better job of reducing garlic to a smooth paste than it does ginger.
The tiny porcelain teeth make short work of garlic and ginger, but aren’t so sharp as to damage your fingers, so you can really get into it. Yes, your hand will get some garlic on it, but so will anything else you do now that you’re using real garlic. And you need to wash your hands more anyway. Objection overruled.
Furthermore, most other methods (mortar and pestle, flat of the chef’s knife) get multiple things dirty and rely on the addition of salt, whose hard crystals help break the garlic down further. But then your garlic is all salty. Grating the garlic using the ginger grater is quick and easy, and results in a very fine mush that can be stirred as-is into just about anything.
This is particularly nice for uncooked dishes–unexpected chunks of raw garlic can be rawther unpleasant, particularly in summery preparations like bruschetta or gazpacho. And, if you’re doing nearly any kind of Asian cookery, you’ll likely need both garlic and ginger. Do your garlic first, then the ginger, whose fibers will help get all the garlic where it needs to go, and you’ll be sitting pretty.