I have gotten more discerning about most things as I age, but the longer I am alive, the less picky I am about peels. Unlike my seven-year-old self, who wouldn’t eat an apple unless it was peeled, cored, and cut into segments, I’m now a big fan of nature’s edible wrapping paper. (The exception, oddly enough, is bell pepper skins; peeled bell peppers melt into sauces.)
Ginger is currently my favourite thing to not peel. It started slowly, cautiously — I didn’t peel a 3 centimetre knob before I sliced it up for poached chicken, and the chicken came out just as succulent and flavourful as ever. Then I got slightly bolder, and minced it, also unpeeled, before adding it to some fried rice. Again, there was no detectable difference in taste or quality. Finally, I tried it raw, grating unpeeled ginger directly onto my tiny tomato toast. It was delicious.
The only real prep ginger needs is a quick wash under running water, and maybe a little scrub with a bristle brush if you’re really concerned about dirt. There is no reason to peel it. Ginger skin is so thin and delicate, it is virtually undetectable in whatever you add it to. You cannot taste the peel, you cannot feel the peel on your tongue, and — unless you leave it in big, raw pieces — you can’t really even see the peel. Not peeling ginger is also the less wasteful, thriftier approach. Rather than try to peel those tiny little nubs and offshoots with a spoon — rarely a successful endeavour — you can slice, dice, grate, and mince them along with the bigger, thumb-shaped pieces. There is no downside.
The only exception is if you are dealing with old, wrinkly ginger with tough skin. If you plan to incorporate it into a dish, you’ll have to get rid of it, as well as any flesh that’s turned woody and fibrous. (A spoon won’t cut it for this tough boy — use a paring knife.) Honestly though, once ginger gets to that point, I just chop it up — unpeeled — and douse it with screeching hot oil to make a ginger-flavoured oil. Add some tiny garlic cloves — which I also refuse to peel — and you’ve got a nice base for a dipping sauce.