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Black Garlic: The Ingredient that Wouldn’t Go Away

March 15, 2010

By Pat Tanner

I first encountered black garlic at last summer’s Fancy Food Show, where I refused to take even a nibble. (This from someone who once voluntarily ate toasted mealy worms.) My thinking went something like this: “Garlic that is turned jet black and described as sweet? No thank you!” But when restaurant chefs all over the country started singing its praises, I warily ordered some from earthy.com. (It is also available at Wegmans and some other upscale markets.)

Long story short: I am smitten.

Black garlic does taste sweet, but not sugary sweet. More like molasses sweet, although others have detected balsamic vinegar, chocolate, licorice, and fennel. It was developed in South Korea as a health product and is purported to contain twice as many antioxidants as regular garlic. The black, sticky cloves are made by taking regular, run-of-the-mill garlic, fermenting it for three weeks in an environment of controlled heat and humidity, and then ageing it for another week. In the process, the acrid bite normally associated with garlic is completely mellowed out.

New recipes using this black gold are popping up online every week. Among the first I tried was Scallops with Black Garlic at steamykitchen.com. Fabulous. I also made black garlic puree from a recipe by Jeremy Fox, who just left the highly regarded vegetarian restaurant Ubuntu in Napa, California. It’s as simple as pureeing cloves from two heads of black garlic in a blender or mini-food processor and adding as little water as needed to make the mixture pourable. Like the vinaigrette below, it is terrific drizzled over chunks of warm, cooked potatoes and hard cooked eggs.

For additional recipes – as well as the full story behind the development of this welcome new ingredient – visit blackgarlic.com.

BLACK GARLIC VINAIGRETTE
Adapted from Caron Golden, San Diego Network News

5 cloves black garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor or blender. Process until the black garlic is completely incorporated. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil. (Good over greens as well as warm, cooked potatoes.)

Makes about 1 cup.

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