Why Gordon Ramsay Salts Garlic Before Mincing

It doesn't need to be said that Gordon Ramsay is one of the most masterful chefs around. It's evident just by listening to the way he talks about food, watching how he cooks on TV, and, if you get the chance to, dining at one of his many restaurants. There's a lot that home cooks can learn from the celebrity chef, and, luckily, he shares his culinary expertise all the time.

In a video published to his YouTube channel, Ramsay revealed 50 of his most useful cooking tips, one of which is for mincing garlic. As he demonstrates in the video, he starts by roughly slicing the garlic. Then, just before chopping it up, he sprinkles on some salt. Ramsay explains that this technique works because salt is abrasive. As you chop, it facilitates the breakdown of the fibers in the garlic. This ultimately allows you to achieve the finest possible minced garlic without using any special kitchen gadgets — just a knife and a pinch of salt. But what really occurs when garlic's fibers start breaking down?

Salt changes the texture and flavor of garlic

When you add salt to garlic, you're not just adding extra saltiness — there's also a chemical reaction at play. Salt has the ability to extract moisture. When sprinkling it over garlic, therefore, the garlic becomes softer and easier to turn into a mince. But mincing garlic also affects garlic's taste. When you leave garlic whole or even sliced, it retains that strong, pungent flavor you associate with garlic. And as it gets minced, that flavor changes. This is because the more garlic is manipulated, the more enzymes it releases, and when its compounds alliin and alliinase combine, it produces allicin, which is responsible for the "garlic" flavor you know and love.

If you're planning to add salt per Ramsay's suggestion, keep in mind that you may have to adjust your recipe accordingly. That could mean adding more garlic than the recipe originally called for, or reducing the overall amount of salt you add to the dish.