I avoid mincing garlic at all costs. My technique is not the issue — my will is. I hate doing it, so I don’t. Having made every recipe I know with smashed, chopped, sliced, or puréed garlic instead of the ubiquitous mince, I’m here to tell you that mincing is completely unnecessary. Sometimes, it’s even detrimental to the recipe.
Stir fries and sautés most commonly call for minced garlic, so let’s start with them. Here’s the issue: Everyone loves an intentionally crispy, golden-brown garlic chip, but burnt garlic tastes like shit. If you’re cooking garlic over high heat, a superfine mince is very easy to burn. For stir fries, homemade chilli oil, and all other recipes that involve exposing garlic to very high heat, a rough chop gives you a little extra breathing room between “slightly browned” and “burnt.” Yes, slightly larger pieces of garlic will be more noticeable in the finished dish, but they will also be sweet, tender, and lightly caramelised. Personally, I don’t see any drawbacks.
If a recipe has you add minced garlic to hot, sizzling oil at the beginning of the cooking process, it’s probably not a very good recipe. Cooking garlic in super hot oil burns the outside without properly mellowing the inside, resulting in acrid, aggressive garlic. Though I love a good...Read more
Minced garlic also sucks for marinades. No matter how thoroughly you blot the excess off a piece of meat, the garlic always sticks — and when you sear or grill the meat, the garlic burns. This pattern is as predictable as any law of physics, and yet we all keep dutifully mincing garlic for our silly little marinades (and vinaigrettes, which are basically the same) when we should be puréeing them with stick blenders and getting on with our lives. A smooth, homogenous marinade has no rogue bits to burn.
The examples just keep coming. If you’re after the specific flavour and texture of finely minced, raw garlic, you can achieve it with a microplane grater or a press. Any dish that simmers for longer than 15 or 20 minutes will soften peeled, smashed cloves enough that you can mash them straight into the finished sauce or spread them on bread. (Bespoke, table-side garlic bread, anyone?) Pesto, chimichurri, sofrito, curry paste, and similar concoctions are best made in a food processor or mortar and pestle anyways; why bother mincing garlic that’s going to get pulverised by a machine? What are you trying to prove?
As far as I can tell, the only good reason to ever bother mincing garlic is if you enjoy doing it. If that’s you, keep on keeping on. But for everyone else, let this be permission to free yourself from the confines of garlic mincing and focus on the fun parts of cooking.