Cooking Basics Lesson III: The Power of Garlic

The second you try your seasoning and you know it is bland as the rice chips you have been ignoring for months now. You know it is the moment you need to add this fantastic ingredient garlic is. Give your seasoning the chance to shine and make your dish irresistible. Garlic has the ability to bring flavor and aroma that will make your guests asking for more.

There is a catch with garlic though, you need to know more about the types of garlic because it will affect on the results of your dish. The secret is to explore more about it.

Lets take a moment and look at a piece of garlic. Just by looking at it, you know there is a family relation with onions. There is no point of denying it, we all know garlic is onion’s cousin. Beyond those layers there is a smell and taste that becomes remarkable and pleasing  in the dishes, and sometimes it even makes you cry. Joking 😉 Nobody likes those onion’s provoked tears. Ok, just a little. Onion’s cousin, garlic, is absolutely a must in marinates. There is not a single plate I make without the presence of garlic, only desserts  of course 🙂

The beautiful Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, comes in different sizes, colors, shapes, taste and smell. They are classified into different subspecies, A. sativum var. ophioscorodon and A. sativum var. sativum.

You can noticed the differences between the types of garlic by their taste. There is one particular type of clove that is spicy and has a much stronger smell than the other. This type falls into the category of hardneck garlic (A. sativum var. ophioscorodon). For the hardneck garlic, I like to use it in meat like lamb and sauces.

Softneck garlic (A. sativum var. sativum) is more common than the hardneck type. I find it easier to peel it and appropriate for most dishes. The softneck garlic is a saver when it comes to pleasing everyone at the table. It has a soft garlicky flavor, and I can use it in most dishes including raw sauces.

There are far more types of garlics, but these are the most common one used and the ones you should begin to focus on.

Smash, chop, crush it, garlic will be a great addition to your food. Amazing effects happen when you smash the garlic. An enzyme converts allin to allicin, making it smelly or with a rather characteristic smell. Besides the smell, taste and its ability to repel vampires :), it is beneficial to your health. Great source of selenium, manganese, vitamin C, fiber and others, garlic is a box of everything we need. Check out the nutrients of garlic in the table  from Nutrition and You (source: USDA National Nutrient data base).

Principle
Nutrient Value/100g
Percentage of RDA
Energy 149 Kcal 7.5%
Carbohydrates 33.06 g 25%
Protein 6.36 g 11%
Total Fat 0.5 g 2%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 2.1 g 5.5%
Vitamins
Folates 3 µg 1%
Niacin 0.700 mg 4%
Pantothenic acid 0.596 mg 12%
Pyridoxine 1.235 mg 95%
Riboflavin 0.110 mg 8%
Thiamin 0.200 mg 17%
Vitamin A 9 IU <1%
Vitamin C 31.2 mg 52%
Vitamin E 0.08 mg 0.5%
Vitamin K 1.7 µg 1.5%
Electrolytes
Sodium 153 mg 10%
Potassium 401 mg 8.5%
Minerals
Calcium 181 mg 18 %
Copper 0.299 mg 33%
Iron 1.70 mg 21%
Magnesium 25 mg 6%
Manganese 1.672 mg 73%
Phosphorus 153 mg 22%
Selenium 14.2 µg 26%
Zinc 1.160 mg 10.5%
Phyto-nutrients
Carotene-ß 5 µg
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 16 µg

 

A diet filled with garlic can help prevent common cold, regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels, detoxify metals in the body, etc. The best part that even your cells will love garlic, as it helps increase their immunity. You know one of those things you read online and just feel like applying this thing to your life? That is how I feel about garlic. Some people even use it in hair and skin. So many applications for garlic. A small piece of organic material filled with surprises.

In Angola is basically mandatory to put garlic on the seasonings. Rarely you will see a dish without it. That is probably the reason why I am obsessed with garlic, and apply it in my cooking. Check out my blog post on Seasoning with Salt, if you have not done it yet. I love to add it in sautes, rice, beef stew, masalas, lamb dishes, seafood and fish dishes, sauces to go with funge, etc. You can notice the distinct flavor of garlic in a nice pesto dish. In combination with basil, pesto becomes an unforgettable sauce.

May garlic become from now on a key ingredients on your cooking adventures. If you do not apply it now on your recipes, give it a try sometime soon. You will see the difference in taste is massive. Guess who will also be obsessed by the awesome garlic after that? 😀

Until next time, Hungry People.

Feature Photo: David Wolfe

All Other Photos: Pixabay

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