Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

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Shortcut
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Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by Shortcut »

I'd love to get some feedback on smashing/crushing garlic cloves with the side of the knife. I've always taken this practice with garlic: separate the cloves, slice off the hard/attached ends (could possibly just do that first if the whole head will be used), then place the spine edge of the knife on one or two cloves and give a gentle, controlled smack or push. That will crush the clove a little and then the skin easily slides right off. It's the fastest and easiest way I know of to approach garlic cloves.

That's the approach I've always used with my chef's knives: Mac, Global, Miyabi, Sakai Takayuki and my B2 Tanaka (noting that the most recent Tanaka may be only one that is actually handmade/san mai, although it is definitely not a lightweight knife). However, over the holidays a friend (who has a Moritaka and another type of handmade J-knife I didn't recognize, Akifosa or something?) said that most handmade/san mai Japanese knives were not robust enough to perform garlic smashing--it would almost certainly bend the blade.

So now I'm paranoid, haha. I was cutting some garlic last night with the Tanaka and ended up grabbing my CCK cleaver to crush the life out of a few cloves...which worked almost too well, but meant another carbon knife to clean. :lol: What's the standard/approved practice with handmade Japanese knives, or crushing garlic in general? Are there even better approaches?

Cheers!

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STPepper9
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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by STPepper9 »

When you use a san mai knife, be thoughtful about where are you put pressure, instead of using the handle to push down or slap, position the knife over the garlic and use your other hand in a fist and tap down directly above the garlic so you don’t cause lateral strain on the knife blade. If you do cause the knife to bend it should be easy to bend back. if you are doing a lot of garlic however, this would be a good time to consider using a beater.
Also, check out Martin Yan technique if you’ve never seen it.

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by Ut_ron »

How many viewers cut their hand picking up the ginger and garlic like he did 🤦‍♂️
Home cook that enjoys sharp knives.

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by jmcnelly85 »

I personally use my hands in a sumo-palm massage like technique for small amounts or a bench scraper if I need a lot, but I have used thin, Japanese knives for garlic smashing. Be mindful of where and how the handle will react to the surface once the tap happens, get a little extra clearance by having the handle off the board or even off the table to help prevent a bend. Target the area closer to the spine and try not to hit the thin edge, tip, or heel on the board, a quick tap tap should suffice don’t butterbean it. Most knives should be able to handle this, but if it does present risk if done sloppily. I’ve seen people orient knives vertically with the blade facing out while hammer-fist targeting individual bulbs before but haven’t personally tried the technique before because it looks ridiculous.

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves

Post by lsboogy »

Just toss a pinch of salt on a couple cloves (more if you are doing a whole head or more) on cloves that have been smashed - give them a good whack or two under the side of your knife. Add some salt (acts as an abrasive) and just mush back and forth till the garlic is paste Very easy with any knife, you are just using the blade as a flat grinder. Made 16 heads of paste last weekend in minutes

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by salemj »

Sounds like you've never had a problem before and that you're already mindful. I think the key is to always set the knife on the garlic before applying any type of pressure (as described above)—the key here is that you know for sure that neither the tip of the knife nor the handle will not touch the board when you apply pressure (obviously, the knife is only prone to bend if you apply to opposite forces at two different points, so as long as the knife is only in contact with something at one point – the garlic – and the handle and/or tip are not in danger of hitting the board, you should be fine giving it a vigorous tap with a fist).

I second JMC's comment above: when in doubt, just use a bench scraper—always good to have one near the cutting board, anyway, as they also work better for scraping, moving, and lifting larger quantities of ingredients off the board. Otherwise, as has been said, applying the pressure directly over the garlic

I tend not to mash garlic or make pastes using knives as a home cook. It is a great and classic technique (and I by no means want to suggest those like Isboogy should stop), but I'm just not comfortable doing it with most of my Japanese knives with at-home quantities, not least because I don't like mincing salt with my edges and I'm not comfortable mushing my blade on its side when the edges are sharp. If I need a past, I use a garlic press or the blender, or even just my bench scraper.
~Joe

Comments: I'm short, a home cook, prefer lighter, thinner blades, and own mostly Konosukes but have used over a dozen brands.

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by lsboogy »

I think this is a good point. I have had the oppotunity to work in a pro kitchen for the past year or so, and the difference is manifold - we do large amounts of stuff so my techniques with onions are getting very good (for instance). The kitchen I work in does a limited menu (4-6 dishes on a given day) for 150-300 meals. But since I am still the low man on the totem pole, I get stuck with onions every time. Nothing like cutting up a box or three every morning to get knife skills (my onion cutting is now legendary in my mind). What you learn in a pro kitchen allows you to cook for small crowds (12-20) without much thought. Doing many tasks (like garlic paste) is no longer something I think about - just a quick task that takes little or no thought now. If you ever get a chance to work with a real chef, do it. I have learned more working in Rick's kitchen that all my years at home - most things that home cooks look at as hard are easy now. Garlic paste is a great example - no thought on my part, give me a few dozen heads, peel them quick (I use a jar- just shake quick) add salt, and mash with a knife. Better than anything you can buy, much cheaper, and easy. Professional chefs are way beyond what home cooks do - knife skills, general kitchen skills etc. if I do this for 10 more years, any homeless shelter work will be easy. Menu on Sunday includes roast chicken thighs with garlic cloves shoved in, mashers, and veg. Desert is undecided at this point, but might well be a flambeau - the kids love it. If you have some time, find a homeless shelter and feed them high end food - they are humans and deserve whatever we can give them. If anyone in the twin cities wants to help, just send me a message

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by Kalaeb »

More often than not I use the butt of the handle and pound it. However, if I use the blade to smash, I don't use the handle for leverage. I use my palm on the blade.

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by lsboogy »

Just peel the cloves (shake in a glass jar), put them on a board, cut off the hard end and add a pinch of salt(coarse stuff - acts as a grinder) and smash and move with side of a blade. Can make piles in seconds - push hard. Easy peezee

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by Bob Z »

lsboogy wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:25 pm
Just peel the cloves (shake in a glass jar), put them on a board, cut off the hard end and add a pinch of salt(coarse stuff - acts as a grinder) and smash and move with side of a blade. Can make piles in seconds - push hard. Easy peezee
You know what they say, no video it didnt happen. We would love to see a vid of you doing garlic and onions!

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by Shortcut »

I’ve never seen this glass jar thing before. Time for some YouTube! I’ll take a look.

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by lsboogy »

Mom learned it from Julia Child (Bonne Marm jar of course), Martha Stewart does it in metal bowls, I used an old glass skippy jar and have for years. Whole head of garlic, perfect in 30 seconds. You can do single cloves as well.

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by Bob Z »

Lol the old saying goes, pictire (video) is worth a thousand words!

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by lsboogy »

Bob Z wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 10:48 pm
Lol the old saying goes, pictire (video) is worth a thousand words!
I'll see if I can send some to mark or Ken. I can't use photo sharing sites because of what I do for a living

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by lsboogy »

Just give it a try - put a whole head in a jar with some room, put the lid on and shake for 20-30 seconds. Dealing with mom (she's 87 and has fluid in her lungs - hope she gets out tomorrow or the next day). I'll see if I can do a vid for the non-believers in the crowd. Been doing it since I was a kid (50 years ago) - glass jar with metal lid is all you need

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by Carter »

I have always used the Pepin method using a firm whack and the side of the blade. I first saw the jar method from Jose Andres....I remember thinking it was very cool...I have never tried it, but will give it a go.

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by Radar53 »

Cheers Grant

Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they're not going to get you!!

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by Drewski »

I tried the jar method last night for the first time. Threw the head in without cutting or squishing it into a pint sized mason jar. Shook vigorously for 10 seconds. Dumped onto board. Was blown away by all the peeled, separated cloves. The skins were cracked up a lot and maybe not so clean but they were all together so a board scraper made quick work of the mess. I'm a convert.

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by pcavaliere »

If its just one or two, I crush the head with the heel of my hand (old Italian method). The peel then comes off by itself and I don't even cut the end piece if I'm throwing it in like that.

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Re: Smashing/crushing garlic cloves?

Post by Xuanfusion »

STPepper9 wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:28 am
When you use a san mai knife, be thoughtful about where are you put pressure, instead of using the handle to push down or slap, position the knife over the garlic and use your other hand in a fist and tap down directly above the garlic so you don’t cause lateral strain on the knife blade. If you do cause the knife to bend it should be easy to bend back. if you are doing a lot of garlic however, this would be a good time to consider using a beater.
Also, check out Martin Yan technique if you’ve never seen it.
I like it so much doing like Martin Yan ! Thanks for sharing

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