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May 21, 2009 11:09 PM

Is frying garlic unhealthy?

There is a recipe in Penelope Casas's Delicioso! that requires whole garlic cloves to be fried in the same olive oil as chicken pieces. I've cooked the recipe twice, but although the technique confers strong flavor to the chicken, I'm worried about the health effects.
Although not eaten, the garlic pieces end up charred and I assume they react chemically with the oil in which the chicken is cooked. Is garlic ever shallow fried in any traditional cuisine, or is this an aberration? Should I worry about carcinogens, etc.?

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  1. I've always heard to never let your garlic brown because it could ruin the flavor, and you should use a regular olive oil instead of extra virgin to fry with because it has a higher smoke point. If an oil is burned it does change chemically into something undesirable.

    1. I do that all the time when I make a Marcella Hazan soup with tomatoes, rosemary and chickpeas. It calls for removing the nut brown cloves before proceeding, and, before proceeding, I eat them.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MMRuth

        Once I happened to be browning garlic cloves for some dish and making pizza when a lightening bolt hit me and I sliced the cloves and put them on the pizza. Yum.

        I don't want to live in a world without fried garlic.

      2. don't let the garlic actually burn, i.e., get near black (because the flavor is bad and bitter)-- otherwise it is fine! i take garlic to different degrees of doneness depending on the complexity and depth, and other components, of a dish -- a technique to which mmruth alludes (above).

        1. me personally, I would only be worried about the flavor of the dish. Burnt garlic, carcinogens...I don't know but constant fear of carcinogens can have a more negative effect on longevity than the supposed carcinogens

          1 Reply
          1. re: scubadoo97


            I happily back your point.

          2. i buy fried garlic bits by the bag in chinatown, lol. they make a great garnish on noodle dishes.

            don't scorch the oil and don't let your garlic get to black. oh, and exhale. seriously. people have been eating fried garlic for a gajillion years.