Whether you like just a hint of garlic, a distinct presence or full-blown garlic flavour in your dish I am sure you will agree that it improves and enriches our food.
Cooking with garlic is fun and it is not difficult, especially if you know the strength in the form and the type of garlic you are about to use. It has been used in ancient kitchens and, although garlic breath can put some people off, it remains a much-loved cooking ingredient and flavouring herb.
Cooking with fresh (raw) garlic could be tricky though if you only cooked with garlic supplements and vice versa. Personally I prefer the raw and full of true colours version.
List of my tips about cooking with garlic to get the best out of it!
- Freshly minced garlic cloves have much more heat and flavour sharpness than fresh garlic cloves which have been chopped or sliced.
- Garlic loses most of its heat and sharpness when fried or roasted. This means that mixing raw, crushed or minced garlic into hot liquids or stews without prior processing will give you a serious garlic flavor kick and if you are not careful you can ruin your dish. Your dish will need to stay in the heat for much longer to soften the powerful garlic effect and this is not always ideal if you don’t want it to overcook.
- Roasted garlic loses its heat completely which is replaced with a lovely syrupy, caramel and sweet, wonderful flavor. Next to fried, roasted garlic is my favorite whether eaten on its own, in a salad or used as a cooking ingredient.
- It is super easy to overcook garlic when it is fried in oil. If you don’t want to ruin your dish be careful – garlic doesn’t like fast, high heat frying. If fried too fast, too long or in too high temperature it will turn bitter and really unpleasant.
I love cooking with garlic. I like to fry garlic in oil or butter just for about 30 seconds to a minute (depending on how hot my pan is) and always get a bit worried if it turns to any darker than a light straw colour.
Onions always take longer as they are much juicier and usually in bigger chunks, so I like to add my garlic at the end of frying the onions and soon before adding further ingredients that release their juices and the cooler fat. With time your nose will learn to recognize the progress of garlic’s cooking and you will recognize instantly that it is time to either take it off the heat or add further ingredients.
When buying garlic in your local grocery store pick heavy, solid, dry and plump garlic heads. I have learnt to examine the bulbs more closely especially for any change in colour and the possibility of mold. You will need to strip the top papery skin layers off the garlic bulb to expose the individual cloves and break them off. This does not apply if you are interested in my roasted garlic head recipe.
There are quite a few garlic clove peelers available out there to make your job easier and minimize the skin contact. If you don’t like the effects of handling raw garlic and want to find out how to get garlic smell off your hands have a look at the other helpful advise in the how to tab. You will find there some great tips on how to peal a garlic clove with ease and a great video I found one day showing how to peal a garlic head in less than 10 seconds (brilliant!).