How to Toast Garlic
Many of our Filipino dishes, the pancit molo I posted a few days ago a good example, relies heavily on toasted garlic for flavor. So how do we turn fresh cloves
into these crisp, golden nuggets of aroma and flavor?
Here are my tips on how to toast garlic:
- Add the garlic in warm oil (NOT hot!) and cook in low heat until golden brown. Garlic burns fast and if you add it to already hot oil, the outside will brown before the inside sufficiently crisps.
- Fry in enough oil to allow the garlic pieces to swim freely in the pan. This is to ensure even browning. The garlic is fried low and slow, infusing the oil with its wonderful flavor and aroma. Use the flavorful oil for sauteing and in dishes such as sinangag or beef salpicao.
- Do not chop or mince garlic to prevent from burning too fast. Just crush the cloves one or two times and you’re good to go. Once browned and taken out of the pan, the garlic pieces will crisp as they cool and you can easily break them into desired bits.
Warning: This will fill your home with the most maddening, irresistible, and mouth-watering aromas imaginable. We’re talking about whole heads of garlic roasted with olive oil until each individual clove is completely golden and butter-soft — perfect for spreading on a spare piece of baguette or mashing into a salad dressing. Perfect, really, for just about anything
As far as near-magical transformations go, roasted garlic should get a standing ovation. Through the simple alchemy of hot oven heat, garlic starts off raw and crunchy and astringent, and it emerges soft and caramelized with a gentler flavor that borders on sweetness. It’s like night and day.
This is a particularly fine thing to do with older heads of garlic that have been languishing in the cupboard for a little too long, but you needn’t wait that long for your roasted garlic fix — fresh heads are just as tasty, if not more so! Roast one head if that’s what you have, or several at once. Roasted garlic is something you can never have too much of, and extra can even be frozen for up to three months
I’ve found that the exact cooking time and depth of the golden color depend on several factors: Generally, heads of garlic will roast to softness in about 45 minutes, but the size of the heads, the variety, and their age can affect the exact cooking time. Start checking them around 40 minutes and continue cooking as long as you like — it’s very hard to overcook garlic! (As a point of reference, the garlic I roasted here came from a friend’s garden; it was soft enough to spread after 45 minutes, but was even better when I cooked it for 75 minutes. The cloves never got deeply colored, but they tasted so good I didn’t mind at all!)
Here are some dishes you can use toasted garlic:
- In a pan over low heat, heat oil until warm (NOT HOT). Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 7 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.
- With a slotted spoon, remove garlic from oil and drain on paper towels. Allow to cool completely and crisp. Store in an airtight container.