One size does not fit all where graters are concerned. While the box grater, the stainless steel standup version with four grating sides, is standard in most kitchens, the microplane is a smaller, simpler, more versatile version.
A microplane is a long, thin metal tool with a serrated edge used for any number of grating tasks. Its design was actually based on the rasp, a woodworking tool. To use a microplane, simply move your food across the serrated edge to grate or shred it. Microplanes with tiny, grating teeth are perfect for removing zest from citrus fruits and creating paste from fresh garlic and ginger. Medium serrations produce nicely grated soft cheeses and shredded coconut and wider serrations are best suited for lightly shredding hard cheeses, chocolate and even potatoes.
Be sure to check the back or non-cutting side of your microplane to remove any foods that may stick underneath.