Is it important how to mince garlic? To find out, we used a variety of ways. I recall the first time I saw a chef finely slice a garlic clove with a microplane grater.
He was making mayonnaise when the clove melted into a fine puree that fell into the mixing basin below in a matter of seconds. I was blown away, and from then on, it was just another trick in my garlic-preparation arsenal.
Let’s fast forward a few months. I was working on a shrimp scampi recipe and decided to microplane some of my garlic for speed. I got a stinging feeling in my nostrils, like a powerful hit of wasabi, when I dropped it into the hot oil, and my eyes started to water. It was even worse in taste, with a bitter aftertaste that completely spoiled the shrimp.
The fact that microplaned garlic has a stronger flavor than minced garlic isn’t particularly surprising. We all know that the intensity of garlic in a dish is determined not only by the amount of garlic used, but also by how it’s prepared: a single whole clove has less intensity than a crushed clove, a crushed clove is milder than a sliced clove, and a sliced clove isn’t as pungent as a chopped or pureed clove—the more cells we rupture when cutting garlic, the more potent it is.
The degree of difference between finely minced garlic and grated garlic, on the other hand, astounded me. Microplaned garlic was not only more strong than minced garlic, but it was also more toxic. With its mustard gas-like punch, you could beat an army.
I’ve been fascinated about this impact ever since, so I decided to do some more concentrated testing to learn more about it. The findings are useful because they demonstrate how crucial the mincing process can be. Choosing whether to finely chop, crush in a mortar and pestle, press through a garlic press, or use a microplane isn’t just a matter of preference: it can have a significant impact on the flavor of your cuisine.
Mince Garlic in a Raw
To begin my garlic tasting, I decided to concentrate on the flavors of mince garlic in a raw in various ways. Hand chopping, garlic press, mortar and pestle, knife-blade pureeing, and microplane were among them. To give each method a fair shot, I tasted it many times and in varied order.
I ate all of this raw garlic before going to an evening salsa class with my girlfriend Kate, which was unfortunate for her. (Excuse me, baby!)
Hand-Minced With a Knife
Passing the knife over the garlic until it’s reduced to a pile of minute bits is the technique I use most often in my own cooking. The mince garlic knife had the largest and most discrete pieces of any of the other methods I examined, despite its small size. It’s also the driest, because hand mincing doesn’t split apart as many cells and release their fluids as the other methods do.
The garlic, which was mince garlic, had a moderate flavor (relatively is a key term here). It had a pleasant garlicky flavor that stayed mild long after chewing. A mild burn developed over time, although it was gradual and never reached unbearable levels.
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The garlic press has a poor reputation, and many chefs would be embarrassed to be discovered using one (others have come to its defense). I hadn’t possessed one in years, but I bought one for these tests, and it wasn’t quite as horrible as I had anticipated. It wasn’t fantastic either: the garlic came out in a jumble of uneven squiggles, and as I pressed the handles, juice shot everywhere.