There are many ways to use garlic as a cooking ingredient. The usage of garlic varies, but it is undeniable that this ingredient has a long historical standing among global regions and diverse cultures. Among all the possibilities to eat garlic, I relate most to the Chinese minced garlic (蒜泥) that should be prepared with fresh garlic by hand, which is more like a garlic sauce that still contains some crushed garlic. It is softer and moister compared to the chopped ones for stir-fry or pizza topping, though it is also not fully mashed into the paste texture. Whenever thinking of this ingredient, I would recall the scene when my aunt was grinding the chopped garlic cloves with a set of stone pestle and mortar in our kitchen while my father was preparing other materials for the hot pot. They insisted that only freshly minced garlic could make a good dipping sauce for the hot pot, the traditional cuisine in his hometown – Chongqing, China. The same thing applies to the palate from my maternal family, which considers minced garlic as an essential component for the dipping sauce of Hakka Bo Ji Ban, a rice-based steamed pastry. For both Chongqing hot pot and Hakka Bo Ji Ban, they would not be what they are without the dipping sauce containing minced garlic. In other words, minced garlic makes them and becomes a representative memory for me.
– Saiqian Xiao