[Flavor Friday] Garlic
Updated: Mar 2
What is Garlic?
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a perennial flowering plant growing from a bulb. Garlic can be grown year-round if under mild climates. Not only is garlic the common spice/seasoning worldwide, in Asian Cuisines, along with ginger and scallion, are the golden-three go-to spices for most Asian savory dishes/recipes. Garlic belongs in the onion genus that makes it a close-relatives with onion, leek, and chives.
What does it taste like?
Garlic has a unique flavor which is hard to translate to word. However, when uncooked, it is commonly known as strong, spicy (not like chili pepper), pungent, and aromatic; when cooked, the garlic tastes sweeter. After consuming garlic, especially raw garlic, it can cause bad-breath (also known as garlic-breath). This is due to the sulfur compounds that garlic produces since the compounds are similar to the anaerobic bacteria that causes the bad-breath.
How to use/where to find?
Since garlic is common worldwide for culinary use, you can easily find garlic at most grocery stores and Asian supermarkets. It is usually in the fresh produce area where you can find the garlic bulb with its outer layers of thin leaves surrounding an inner sheath that covers the clove. Usually, there are about 15 to 20 cloves in one bulb. In Asian Market, you can also find it in the fridge as peeled garlic cloves (the cloves without the thin white sheathing leaves) or in a minced form (packaged in a plastic container).
For cooking Asian cuisines like stir-fry dishes, people add a bit of oil in the pan over medium heat to stir-fry the sliced or minced garlic (along with scallion or ginger if in recipe) to get its aroma out before adding other ingredients.
For braised dishes, similarly, people will stir-fry the garlic (along with scallion or ginger if in recipe) before adding other ingredients. Even before starting to braised dishes, people will stir-fry the ingredients with garlic for a bit before adding water or broth to get flavors into the ingredients before starting to braise any dishes so it has a stronger aroma and flavor into the ingredients.
Garlic Noodles, Three-Cup-Chicken, Beef Noodle Soup, Stir-Fry Beef, Taiwanese Braised Minced Pork, Chinese Cucumber Salad, Ginger Pork, Garlic Shrimp, Basil Pork, Vietnamese Caramelized Pork (Thit Kho).