Garlic growing in China began at least 2000 years ago and today China is the world’s largest garlic producer. Annual production is estimated to account for around two thirds of the world’s entire supply.
In many countries, even those with a local production capability, Chinese garlic accounts for the bulk of all sales. If you buy unlabelled ‘generic’ garlic from a large chain store then there is a good chance that it will have come from China. This dominance of the market has caused problems for some local producers.
Of course China doesn’t just export garlic, much of it is eaten in the country itself. It’s an essential part of many Chinese recipes including stir fries, sauces, etc and often served with seafood or chicken. Chilli and garlic sauce is a classic combination in Chinese cuisine as is garlic soy sauce which is often served with green beans.
So Chinese garlic is plentiful, but is it any good? Yes, in the sense that any mass produced foodstuff is good. The majority is white softneck variety that certainly does the job and has the advantage of being inexpensive.
So it’s good enough – but, in my opinion, not the best. If you’re prepared to shop around and pay a little more then you can probably find other varieties, perhaps locally grown, that offer a less uniform but more pleasing experience.