The things I have learned about cooking while I’ve started this website is staggering..I knew so little and I’m learning new tips and techniques daily.
Did you ever wonder why with a lot of recipes the directions say to sauté your onions then your garlic, but they never tell you to use salt when sautéing them.
This is the paradox of cooking onions and garlic. When you are sautéing you are building up flavors in the dish you are making. Onions, garlic, leeks and shallots are Alliums and they become sweeter when they sweat on low heat with salt.
The salt also pulls the water out of the onions so they cook faster and become translucent in about 4 minutes. It’s a combination of caramelization and the Maillard reaction and it creates a deep, satisfying flavor you can’t get any other way.
Garlic is added after the onions become translucent, because if you burn garlic it becomes acrid and not mellow. You only need to sauté garlic 2 minutes. You also will add any vegetables after this because vegetables release a lot of water and will stop the process. Once the onions have become translucent you can add the vegetables and cook everything together. If you want a sharper taste of your onions do not sauté them just add them right away with your vegetables.....
BUT if you are sautéing your onions and garlic DON’T forget the SALT!