mmmmmm....garlic, it's a stinky little devil but doesn't it taste sensational!! It's hard to find recipes that don't include it, almost every Italian, Spanish or French dish calls for it. Even Thai, Indian and Mexican dishes slip it in! So unless you are allergic, you better learn to fall in love with this little thing called garlic if you haven't already done so!! Since I don't want to take anything for granted, let's distinguish between a garlic bulb or head and a garlic clove. My sister Lisa told me about an instance when a good friend of hers tried making one of her favorite pasta dishes. The girlfriend always loved Lisa's version of the dish but when she tried to make it, she ended up throwing it away because it was too strong! Lisa asked her friend how many cloves of garlic she had used. Her friend picked up a whole bulb of garlic and said that she put in two of those in the dish! Big problem!! A clove of garlic is just one of the individual pieces of garlic. The bulb or head is the whole garlic which is composed of approximately 10 -15 individual pieces or cloves of garlic. So now that we have that straight let's get down to mincing and pressing garlic!
I'm sure most of you have a garlic press and you probably use it for most of the time. However, if you do need to mince or fine chop the garlic, make garlic spears, roast it or make a garlic paste it might be helpful to learn how. So, hold tight, I'm going to show you these techniques right now!
First let's start by removing the skin from the garlic. Place the garlic on your cutting board and under the palm of your hand. Press down in a rocking motion until you hear a pop. Lift your palm and you'll find that the garlic bulb has broken and the individual cloves have been released from the head. Remove the skins and place the cloves to the side. Then place a clove of garlic either under the palm of your hand, or under the widest part of your chef's knife, and press down firmly until you hear it pop. This method is called bruising the garlic. If you are going to make a soup or a nice stew and want to use whole garlic cloves, you'll want to bruise the garlic first to release the juices. Then when you are ready to serve the soup, you can remove the whole garlic cloves and the flavor will be released into the soup, but you won't have to chew on the garlic clove.
Next, take this bruised garlic clove and begin to rock you knife over the garlic, back and forth mincing the garlic into coarse pieces. For finely chopped garlic, continue chopping back and forth over the garlic until the pieces are smaller. You can use minced or finely chopped garlic for saut￩ing. Just don't brown the garlic, because that is actually burning the garlic and it will leave a strong bitter taste...and that's no good!!
But if you are going to be making a salad dressing, and you don't want to bite into a piece of garlic, we will make a paste by taking the finely chopped garlic, adding a little bit of kosher salt over the top of it and smearing the garlic back and forth with your knife. The salt will be used as an abrasive and will force the garlic to melt down and become a paste. This will be perfect for a Caesar Salad, where you need a lot of garlic!! Or for rubbing onto a toasted crustini.
Garlic is an essential in kimistyle........anyway you mince it!!
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