Garlic crushes quickly in a garlic press. If you don’t have one, you can easily crush or chop it on a board.
A bit of chemistry: What gives garlic its pungent flavour is the release of enzymes from the cells of the garlic. They react with other compounds to create that very intense garlic flavour. Crushing garlic, and letting it sit, intensifies that flavour. To minimise the effect, crush straight into something hot since heat will stop the reaction. Or chop: A sharp knife cutting thin slices causes a lot less cell damage and this a lighter flavour. Another way to mellow the flavour of garlic is to roast the whole, unpeeled clove at a relatively low heat for 5-7 minutes (or until they darken a bit). The heat deactivates the enzymes before you even crush the clove.
- Chopping board (if you’re using a knife)
- Garlic crusher, knife, cleaver or an old credit card.
- Put a clove on a chopping board, put the wide side of your knife on top and press down with the other hand.
- It’s easy to peal the partially crushed clove, and you can now chop it. or mash it with the flat of the knife. (A small sprinkling of salt makes this process easier by adding resistance so the garlic doesn’t fly around and by helping the crushing/smushing action.)
- You can also grate the peeled garlic clove against the raised numbers on an old credit (or debit) card. That gives you a nice garlic paste.
Adjust the garlic to flavour and dish:
- Finely chopped garlic gives off a lot of flavour and melts into the final product.
- Roughly chopped garlic imparts less flavour (less cell damage) but is more visible in the final dish.