This Garlic Chopping TikTok Has People Divided

Many recipes call for fresh garlic. When they do, it is in your best interest to use precisely that, as opposed to, say, garlic powder or jarred minced garlic. The reason is that garlic's flavor profile can be quite nuanced, ranging from sweet to bitter and offering a "burn" that ranges from mild to relatively hot, depending upon how the garlic is prepped (via Quartz). 

As Quartz explains, "mauling garlic — whether by knife, food processor or teeth — is what starts the chemical interaction between garlic's enzyme, alliinase, with the amino acid allin, which produces taste." For that reason, a whole garlic clove will generally have a milder flavor than sliced garlic, which, in turn tastes milder than garlic that has been pulverized into a paste using a garlic press, grater, or mortar and pestle.

Accordingly, recipes that call for garlic will typically specify how the garlic should be prepped, whether sliced, roughly chopped, minced, or otherwise. However, what isn't necessarily going to be spelled out is the method or tool to be used, which can make a subtle yet perceptible difference in your finished product. That may be why this garlic chopping TikTok has people divided.

TikTok users are quite particular about their garlic

Minced garlic's flavor profile exists along the continuum between that of a whole garlic clove and pulverized garlic. But how you mince matters, including the tool you use —  as Molly Birnbaum, executive editor of Cook's Science at America's Test Kitchen, put it, the more "interactions" you have with the garlic, the more garlicky it becomes (via Quartz). And therein lies the rub for Seiko Knives' 73.8 followers, some of whom contributed to the more than 311 thousand likes and 773 comments garnered by Seiko's "how to dice garlic" video on TikTok.

The video shows two different approaches to garlic chopping ("Master" and "Apprentice"). The "Master" approach uses just the sharp-edged knife blade, whereas the "Apprentice" approach starts by smashing the garlic using the flat of the knife. "Both are done correctly," as TikTok user SterlingSilver Tabasa points out in the comments, because "garlic gives different flavors depending on how their [sic] chopped." Other commenters concur, pointing out that smashing before chopping is useful when you want to bring out the "juices" and "rich flavor." Not everyone agrees, however — some suggesting smashing first may end up drying out the garlic.

Stepping into the fray, might we suggest that the Apprentice approach, which yields slightly smaller garlic bits, would be perfect for a slow-simmered stew-type dish such as this boneless chicken cacciatore? And the Master approach, which yields slightly rougher garlic bits, would work well for a recipe like this one for garlic roasted broccoli, in which garlic features prominently.