I am not a fan of ginisa (sauté) mixes. First of all, they provide no added texture to the cooked food. Secondly, there are no natural nutrients found in them. Thirdly, they do not give the dish that interesting mix of colors that only real herbs, spices and vegetables can. When I sauté, I start with fresh everything. Like I did this morning when I made an anchovies and egg breakfast. I will post the recipe for that later. For now, let’s talk about sautéing basics, a.k.a. how to peel garlic, chop onions and whether it’s really necessary to scoop out the seeds of the tomato.
How to skin garlic cloves
The most common mistake in dealing with cloves of garlic is to try and peel them before crushing. It’s easier if you crush them first — not with full force but just to break the skin. That way, skin comes off easily. Then, you just chop the garlic as finely or as coarsely as you wish.
How to chop onions
Chopping onions can sting the eyes. True. And the little pieces do have a nasty tendency of flying all over during the process of chopping. Again, true. But you don’t have to chop onions to cut them into little pieces. You can slice them all the way. The added benefit is that the onions do not lose as much juices as when chopping them. Here’s what you do.
Cut off the bottom part of the onion then peel off the skin. Leave the other end intact. Slice the onion without cutting all the way through the top. How thick or how thin the slices should be depends on how fine or how coarse you want to chop the onion.
Give the onion a quarter turn and slice perpendicularly to the first set of slices. And, voila! You have chopped onions. Just discard the end when you’re done. It’s not like it’s wasteful because you do discard both ends anyway so you’re just discarding one end after the chopping is done.
Is it necessary to scoop out the seeds of the tomato?
That depends on how you intend to use the tomato. The centers are where most of the juices are. If you’re going to add it to a stew, then you really want those juices in the stew. So, leave the centers alone. But if you’re using the tomato for a sauté and the cooked dish is supposed to be dry, then that’s when you want to scoop out the centers.
Use a teaspoon to make a clean scoop. Then, chop or dice the tomato and you’re good to go.
So, forget about ginisa mixes. There’s nothing hard about sautéing from scratch.
UPDATE: See also sauteing basics, part 2.