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When you crush raw garlic and use it as seasoning for vegetables, is it best to put it the pan first and let it begin to cook before adding any other ingredients, or is it best to add it later on?

Which order is best if you want the garlic flavor to be strongest?

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Ana it really depends what sort of a dish you are making, and what texture and flavour you are after and the nature of garlic state: chopped, crushed, minced, pounded, etc.

If you want that pungent taste of garlic to be tasted, then you could add these crushed, chopped, sliced ones into your dish in the middle stage. If you do not want to taste too much of garlic, but just to go along, then minced ones are better and you may add a vee-bit at the earlier stage of the cooking. (I had to edit this passage as I had written it swapping the stages)

Garlic can be used for both oil based and water based dishes. Even for salads without oil! but with some flavours of lemon/lime and salt. We usually blend one raw garlic clove (as per the quantity) when making guacamole!!!

So are you sauteing vegetables? Or a gravy based dish? Should the dish go alone or with another set of course based dishes? =)

** Update as per OP's edit:---------- **

I must say it is quite rare to see chefs wanting to preserve the best pungent flavours of garlic/onions... ;)

Cooking the garlic by, say, roasting or frying it affects it in another way: its flavor changes as chemicals break down and reform into novel aromatic compounds. It also becomes sweeter as large sugars and carbohydrates break down into simpler sugars like fructose and glucose, both of which taste quite sweet to us.

The key to really great garlic flavor? Use a combination of techniques as indicated in the above article. Personally I like to do couple of things. Marinating with crushed/chopped/sliced garlic would be in your favour. The longer main-ingredients wrapped with raw garlic before cooking, the better they absorb the flavour as well as aroma. This only works for fast/short cooking dishes. Because longer cooking kills the pungency and makes the dish sweeter.

It all comes down to the chemistry of ingredients and heat - not to mention the experience you may get along!

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  • Your answer helped me figure out that I was in fact asking about pungency. I've edited my question to better reflect that. Thanks! – Ana Sep 24 '14 at 21:37
  • Hi chefs, critiques, please drop a line to improve the answer or educate us in the event if you want to downvote :) – bonCodigo Sep 26 '14 at 2:10
  • @Ana I am editing my answer with a link that could help you retain the pungent flavour and aroma of garlic. Bon appetit and happy cooking! – bonCodigo Sep 26 '14 at 2:12
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Garlic's pungency is released by cutting it. The more finely the garlic is cut-up, the stronger its taste will be. So minced garlic will be stronger than chopped garlic. Chopped garlic will be stronger than sliced garlic. Etc.

Cooking mellows the sharp pungency of garlic. More cooking - milder flavor.

In order for garlic flavor to be strongest, you should mince the garlic and cook it briefly. Assuming you are trying to flavor vegetables, you should add your minced garlic shortly before they are cooked to the point where they ready to be served - give the garlic 30 seconds or so.

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In Thai dishes, I put oil then garlic. This way garlic's smell and taste get mixed with oil. Putting garlic later on makes it soft and unappetizing for me.

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