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I have been experimenting by adding extra cloves of garlic into my pasta sauce every time I cook it. I make a quick pasta sauce by caramelizing onions in a pan, adding very finely chopped fresh garlic (its practically a paste), and whatever other vegetables is my pick for the night. Then I add chopped tomatoes/passata and reduce.

It seems to me no matter how much garlic I add, I do not get a harsh flavour. I just get a nice, deep, complex yet subtle flavour that I wouldn't instantly attribute to garlic.

I am currently at the stage where I am adding more than half a bulb of garlic to a one person sauce.

Is there any point in adding this much garlic? Is the garlic responsible for this "nice, deep, complex flavour"? Would the same effect be achieved with less garlic which is more coarsely chopped?

I understand that the longer garlic cooks, the weaker the "garlic" flavour gets, but is this flavour disappearing or is it developing into a new flavour?

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    "Is there anypoint in adding this much garlic?" there is never enough garlic! – Thomas Jul 25 '20 at 23:47
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What you are discovering is that you can control they way garlic impacts a dish. You do this depending on how it is cut, chopped, mashed...and cooked (from raw to lightly toasted to slowly caramelized...)... and when it is added to the dish. Raw garlic is certainly more "harsh" than cooked. You will have to decide how much is enough...or too much. The flavor will not cook away, but does change.

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  • Yes. I understand that how it is chopped and cooked drastically changes the flavour, but I was wondering if after a certain point flavour is being cooked away. Thank you! – Mark Murray Jul 25 '20 at 13:02
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Garlic mellows pretty rapidly with heat. Dropping it 2 minutes before you've completed sautéeing your onions is enough to knock the raw edge off it - in fact that's the common deciding factor as to when to add your liquids, "Fry until the raw smell is gone".

After that, the longer it simmers the more 'relaxed' it gets.

If you want more punch, try adding some more fresh right at the end.
You'd be surprised, too, how much punch you can get adding dried garlic powder right at the end too. I use it in tarka dal to really give some 'front' to the flavour & aroma as it is served.

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Adding to what Moscafj said, the reason you get the harsh flavor is a chemical called allicin, which forms as soon as the cell walls of the garlic are broken. That's from this video (check around 6:42 for the discussion of garlic). Some pasta sauces have you introduce differently cut/grated garlic at different times so that you can layer different flavors.

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