A quick guide to cooking with Garlic and its connection to Latin and Caribbean cooking. Learn how this amazing ingredient is used in Latin cooking.
If you ask me what is the role of garlic in Latin cuisine, I may say without hesitation that we only avoid using it when it’s about sweets and desserts. Period. The truth is: this vegetable is an omnipresent ingredient in Latin American cooking.
We cannot live without it. This flavoring agent is a main ingredient in the cuisines from Mexico to the Argentinian Patagonia and of course in the rich and flavorful cuisines of the Caribbean islands. Can you imagine an adobo without it? Or a sofrito, a recaito, a mojo, and many other salsas… you name it and it has garlic!
We are not afraid of it. Not at all. We use garlic powder, garlic salt, minced garlic, fresh and roasted… Sometimes we even prepare a paste by mashing and pureeing the fresh cloves and saving it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. We also put the peeled cloves in olive oil in the refrigerator. The idea is to always have some handy!
But as much as we love this ingredient, it doesn’t do the job alone for us Latinos and Hispanic descendants. We combine it with onions, leeks, scallions, red bell peppers, chiles, fresh herbs, and with very appreciated spices such as cumin, black pepper, and oregano.
A rule of thumb: garlic oils must be released in fat. We don’t boil it in water. My grandma used to say: “ajo hervido, ajo perdido”, meaning that when you boil a clove in water, the flavor will be gone, forever. So, please follow my grandma’s advice and let oils and fats help give it the best of its amazing flavor and aroma!
With that said if you’re planning to have Latin friends over for dinner at home, have a Latin or Hispanic significant other or even better are planning to marry one, don’t be afraid of garlic because we all love it and you’ll end up loving it too!