Here’s Why You Should Start Cooking With Onions Instead Of Garlic

These cooking tips will help you cook toasted, not burnt, garlic.

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Say you're cooking corned beef for breakfast and that usually starts with the three basic ingredients of garlic, onions, and tomatoes before you even add in your corned beef. What do you cook first?    

Do you cook the garlic or the onion first? 

If you're a traditionalist and follow the rules your grandmother taught you, you might be inclined to say the garlic is always the first ingredient to go in the hot oil. However, we have a compelling reason to convince you to start a recipe by cooking the onions first instead of the garlic.

Here's why: 

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Garlic cooks (and burns) quickly. As in very quickly. On the other hand, the onions need more time to cook, sweat, and become translucent. 

This vast difference in cooking times is why we suggest you add and cook the onions first before adding the garlic. It's a simple swap in the cooking process that shouldn't alter your recipe at all. In fact, here are at least five other ways you can avoid ever burning your garlic again: 

1 Add the garlic later or in the middle of cooking the dish. 

You can add the garlic later so that when you finally do add the garlic, it's no longer in danger of burning. The timing is important so that when you do get around to adding the garlic, it can cook properly as if you did add it when the onions were cooking. The perfect timing can be the moment right before you add the meat or stock so it still has a chance to get toasted.    

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2 Add the garlic then scoop it out. 

If you love the taste of garlic but abhor the acrid burnt taste, you can cook it as normal then scoop the crispy garlic bits out. You not only infuse the oil with the flavor of the garlic, you now have crunchy garlic bits to add to the dish before you serve it. What a delightful crunch that will give!    

3 Add both the garlic and the onions at the same time. 

This is tricky but it can be done. If there's no better time than at the beginning of cooking, add it in with the onions. By mixing it with the longer-cooking onions, the garlic can toast slower and simmer with the onions as it sweats. It also avoids getting the full brunt of the heat so stir the mix regularly.  


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4 Cook the garlic in lots of oil over medium heat. 

This is another tricky method of avoiding burning the garlic but the result is super delicious. By cooking the garlic in lots of oil and cooking it over medium heat, you confit the garlic. This just means that you cook it longer in lots of oil. You infuse the oil with the flavor of the garlic and gently cook the garlic. This will produce softer, almost roasted garlic rather than toasted garlic so if you want to toast the garlic, increase the heat for a few seconds to get it to that stage before adding the rest of your ingredients.         

5 Leave the garlic whole or in bigger pieces. 

The final tip is to lightly crush or roughly chop the garlic. Larger pieces won't burn as fast as smaller finely chopped garlic will but it will still give you that garlic flavor that you're looking for.        

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Now that you know how to avoid burning the garlic and can instead focus on toasting them, scroll through these garlicky recipes that let the garlic shine in the dish. 

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here!


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