I’ve been cooking with garlic my whole life and chances are, you have too. Initially, I used to just purchase garlic fully encased in its papery husks and smush them out with the flat side of my knife. But now a lot of stores carry cheap containers of the peeled varieties, so I can’t think of a convincing reason to go back to the rudimentary version.
So then the question is how do I process garlic? Perhaps finely slicing it similar to this scene in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas is a good method, and writer Anthony Bourdain certainly backed it (at least for pasta dishes) in his book Kitchen Confidential. But seriously, raise your hands if you really do this.
I tried this mafia technique a few times and found it to be an inefficient pain. And my translucent paper thin slices most certainly did not “liquify in the pan with just a little oil” like I hoped it would.
Starting out, I tried many varieties of garlic presses, which are designed to hold a few cloves and all that is needed thereafter is a firm grip. But I always hated the slow and inefficient mechanics of presses and found them to be a pain to clean. You can’t just throw them in the dish washer, you have to pick out leftover garlic slivers or they tend to dry out and stick onto the press.
And then for many years I used a mincing technique with repeated motions from my chef’s knife until a handful of garlic transformed into a crumby pile. But the problem with this technique was I couldn’t get enough “garlic” from my garlic. So I added salt to it while mincing, which extracts its juices thereby making it more pastelike. I did this for another number of years until I eventually got fed up with how much time it took and how messy-smelly-sticky my hands got.
So then I switched over to a small electric processor, which certainly saved time but cleaning was still a pain.
Enter the microplane. It is efficient, grinds garlic to my desired consistency and is a cinch to clean with just a soapy sponge. To top it all off, I can grind each clove down to that tough area on the tip and just throw it away thereafter. (I used to slice that piece off one by one.) Incidentally, this is also my preferred method for ginger root.
So now I turn it to you my cooking friends. How do you take your garlic?
by Gene Lee, Food and More blog