Garlic is divine. Misuse of garlic is a crime. Old garlic, burnt garlic, garlic cut too long ago, garlic that has been smashed through one of those abominations, the garlic press, are all disgusting. Sliver it for pasta, like you saw in Goodfellas. Smash it with the flat of your knife blade. And try roasting garlic. It gets mellow and sweeter if you roast it whole, to be squeezed out later when it’s soft and brown.
– Anthony Bourdain
He’s right. Most of the time, anyway. When you put garlic through a garlic crusher, you end up separating the flesh and the juices, those essential oils which add all the sweetness. Much better to thinly slice it, squish it with a knife blade, or even put it in the mortar. (Use a bit of salt to pin it down and make it harder to escape your ruthless pestle.)
Two exceptions come to mind. Aïoli, or garlic mayonnaise, and when you’re using garlic as part of a marinade. Here, I think a garlic crusher is fine. But make sure that you hold the crusher over where the garlic is going to go, so that flesh and juices all end up there.
I use a Zyliss crusher, slightly more expensive, but engineered just right, and you don’t even need to peel the garlic in advance.