Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Dad would laugh... the number/variety of garlic presses, crushers and smashers I've purchased/used over the years. If memory serves, there have been at least five different types of garlic-related accoutrements in my inventory of kitchen tools...

...which doesn't sound like much, but that's five more than a person really has any need for.

How tough to crack open the papery skin of a garlic clove? Not very.

So why all these devices to 'open a garlic'?
Because they're there in stores. Look interesting. I always think I need another kitchen gadget. And so - I buy them.

My Dad would laugh.
He only ever used one tool and one tool only for the purpose of getting the most out of garlic ~~~ a big ol' Chinese cleaver with a wooden handle.
The simplest type of Chinese cleaver is not necessarily an expensive knife. What it is - is such a useful kitchen tool.

You can buy a fancy dancy one which will set you back a few shillings. Or - you can pick one up for less than ten buck$. Dad always used an inexpensive, carbon steel cleaver with a wooden handle. He took care of his culinary tools, sharpening the cleaver often, carefully washing and drying it after use.

Besides utilizing the cleaver to slice, dice and chop all manner of meat and produce, Dad used the wide, flat side of the knife blade to break open cloves of garlic.

- Clove of garlic on cutting board.
- Flat of knife over top of clove.
- Hit flat of knife with fist.
- Garlic is crushed open.
- Garlic 'skin' slips right off.
After which, if necessary, Dad would chop the garlic coarsely or mince finely.

Psssssst - yes, yes. MartinYan smashes/minces garlic and ginger in the same way, using a cleaver.
What could be simpler?

Even the butt of the handle on the cleaver was put to practical use. When prepping garlic for a particular dish, my father would hold the knife by the blunt end of the blade, end of the handle pushed down onto a cutting board. With steady hand and rhythmic beat, he'd pound the handle into a combination of chopped garlic mixed with fermented black beans. In minutes, a mash of the two ingredients result. To this would be added a bit of soy sauce and oil, resulting in a fragrant blend of fresh black bean sauce, ready for stir-fry or steamed veggie/meat dishes.
Dad's now gone, but one of his well-used cleavers is in my possession. Lucky me.
I can get through many a garlic clove with this all purpose blade. Every which way.

Some time ago, I re-purposed my Susi garlic press by donating it to my grandkid's box of PlayDoh stuff. The Susi is THE best tool to make great Play-Doh 'hair' and 'spaghetti'. I wonder if the designer and manufacturer of The Susi are aware of this.

At this writing, I'm down to one extraneous garlic tool.
Not only does it work well when used correctly (read the customer reviews at the link), but it's too cute to give up just now.

(P.S. Thanks, Dad - for the cooking lessons)


Lauren said...

I don't think I've ever used a cleaver... can you believe it?

House Dreams said...

My uncle's meals were DELICIOUS meat and potatoes. His favorite knife on all those different meats was a carbon steel knife that grew thinner and curvier with each sharpening and if you didn't dry it well after washing: rust! Then you were out of the kitchen.

Why did I love kidneys and eggs? Chopped to perfection.
Would I eat it now?

Conn said...

i love my metzaluna... similar to a cleaver... over any of my other garlic choppers, crushers etc.