Garlic is one of the most popular items in the kitchen. It is a spice which everyone, regardless of culture and race, is using. It is a species that belong to the onion genus, and its close relatives are onion, shallot, leek, and chive. Garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple and frequent seasoning in the Mediterranean region, Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Garlic has various uses, especially in the field of culinary. Many parts of the plant can be used in cooking.
The bulb of the plant is its most commonly used part. Garlic bulbs are usually divided into several numerous fleshy sections called as cloves. Garlic cloves are either consumed cooked or raw, and have considerable medicinal purposes. They have a pungent and spicy flavor which gradually sweetens with cooking.
The other parts of the garlic plant are also edible, just like the leaves and flowers on the head. They have milder flavor than the bulbs, and are most often consumed while young and tender. The immature flower stalks of some types are sometimes marketed for uses similar to asparagus in stir-fries. The inedible or rarely eaten parts of the garlic plant include the “skin” and root cluster. The “skin” or the papery protective layer that covers the cloves are generally removed before using in raw or cooked form, though in Korea immature whole heads are sometimes prepared with the tender skins intact.
Garlic is an important component of many dishes in Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa, southern Europe, and parts of South and Central America. Here are some of the known preparations of garlic:
- The flavor varies in intensity and aroma with the different cooking methods. It is often cooked with onion, tomato, or ginger.
- Garlic cloves are also roasted. The top of the bulb is cut; the cloves are then coated with olive oil or other oil-based seasoning, and then roasted in oven.
- In Korea, heads of garlic are fermented at high temperature. The fermented garlic, called black garlic, is sweet and syrupy. It is now being sold in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.
- Garlic is also applied to breads to create a variety of classic dishes, such as garlic bread, garlic toast, brochette, crusting, and canapé.
- Oils can be flavored with garlic cloves, and are used to season various vegetables, meats, breads, and pasta.
- In some cuisines, the young bulbs are pickled for three to six weeks in a mixture of sugar, salt, and spices.
- In Eastern Europe, the shoots are pickled and eaten as an appetizer.
- Mixing garlic with egg yolks and olive oil produces aioli. Garlic, oil, and a chunky base produce skordalia. Blending garlic, almond, oil, and soaked bread produces ajoblanco.
- Garlic powder has a different taste from fresh garlic. If used as a substitute for fresh garlic, 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder is equivalent to one clove of garlic.