If you’ve ever wondered what umami tastes like, this recipe is a perfect introduction
Toronto Star, 17 Jan 2018
CYNTHIA DAVID SPECIAL TO THE STAR
MARK GILLOW/GARLIC CLUBB
These are dark days in the food world.
Along with last year’s top trend, activated charcoal, Google searches for black garlic are trending upward as more and more chefs and foodies seek out the savoury licorice, balsamic vinegar and molasses notes of these jet-black cloves.
Without garlic’s usual pungent bite and a chewy texture like dried apricots, black garlic is simply a fresh garlic bulb heated at low temperatures with controlled humidity for 10 to 40 days until caramelized. The resulting black cloves add the rich taste of umami to any dish, from appetizers to dessert.
“Customers are surprised to learn that its unique colour, taste and texture are accomplished without any additives,” says Sabrina Mcmanus, senior director of Loblaw brands.
Loblaws has seen double-digit growth in the past two years on its 30-gram jars of peeled black cloves from Spain.
“More high-end chefs are using it,” says Lino Vittorio of Johnvince Foods, which sells pouches of black garlic from South Korea, “but I don’t think it will ever be a mainstream item.”
Depending on who you believe, black garlic is either a 4,000-year-old Asian tradition or a specialty product with no ancient lineage introduced in 2008 by a Korean-born entrepreneur in California.
Producers claim it’s more easily digested than fresh and that garlic’s antioxidant level more than doubles when heated — some call it fermented — making it popular as a health supplement.
While most black garlic sold locally hails from Korea, China or California, investment banker turned garlic grower Jimmy Clubb is one of a handful of producers creating black garlic closer to home in Quebec.
I found his distinctive Garlic Clubb boxes at Toronto’s Harvest Wagon among jars of black garlic paste.
The papery skin of the individual bulbs looks pretty dry and beaten-up after being heated for a month. Clubb, who pops a clove a day for health reasons, advises first-timers to start slowly and add a clove or two at a time, finely chopped or mashed, to a dish.
“Black garlic is meant as a background flavour to add depth to your cooking,” he said. “It’s not meant to stand out or overpower a dish.”
For a sweet taste sensation, he recommends slipping a few minced cloves into chocolate cake batter.
“With more chefs involved and enthusiastic foodies willing to try new things, I think black garlic has real momentum behind it,” he says.
And it won’t leave you with garlic breath.
Buy and store
Look for black garlic in Asian, specialty and independent supermarkets. Loblaws sells it in the spice section.
Keep in a cool, dry place or refrigerate in a resealable bag for up to two years.
If you buy whole bulbs, separate cloves and discard papery coating.
To release flavour, knead, mash or finely chop peeled black clove. Dissolve in hot water or mix well with hot butter or oil.
Jimmy Clubb recommends Home Hardware’s Kuraidori garlic slicer and Dreamfarm’s Garject garlic press to break up black garlic easily.
For a garlicky flavour, add fresh garlic cloves along with black cloves.
Use in any recipe that calls for roasted garlic. DIY The simplest DIY method online uses a rice cooker on the keep-warm setting. Place a mat in the cooker, cover with a paper towel, add dry, clean garlic bulbs and cover with a second paper towel. Close lid and let sit 10 to 14 days until black and tender, checking occasionally.
Add slivers to scrambled eggs, sautéed green beans, spaghetti aglio olio or pizza.
Finely slice and add to sautéed onions when making risotto.
Add finely chopped black garlic to warmed butter and pour over steamed asparagus.
Sauté mushrooms with slivers of black garlic.
Slip a few mashed cloves into bean or vegetable soup or add to beef stew.
Add paste to mayonnaise, cream cheese or goat cheese.
Add a little mashed black garlic to barbecue or spaghetti sauce.
Mash with butter and rub under the skin of a whole chicken before roasting.
Chop and add to a garlic-breadcrumb crust for a rack of lamb.
Spread toasted baguette slices with mashed cloves or top with tomato salsa infused with chopped black garlic.
Finely chop and add to chocolate brownie or cake batter before baking.
Black Garlic Shrimp Linguine
If you’ve ever wondered what “umami” tastes like, try this dish.
12 oz (375 g) dry linguine
2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
6 cloves black garlic (1 bulb), finely chopped
1 cup (250 mL) dry white wine
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
24 large shrimp (31-40), thawed if frozen; shelled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh parsley
Boil pasta in a large pot according to package directions.
Heat oil and butter in a large skillet on medium heat.
Add shallot and cook until soft and translucent.
Whisk in black garlic to combine.
Add wine, lemon juice and zest.
Continue cooking until sauce is reduced by half.
Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook until pink, about 3 minutes, turning once. Add parsley.
Drain pasta and add to skillet. Toss with tongs to coat with sauce. Check seasoning. Serve hot.
Makes 4 servings.
Cynthia David is a Toronto-based food and travel writer who blogs at cynthia-david.com
Funky black garlic has chefs practicing the dark arts.
BY AMIEL STANEK
Bon Appétit (January 25, 2016)
Sure, it might look like garlic gone bad, but really it’s an ingredient we’re seeing at restaurants across the country. Black garlic is made when heads of (regular ol’) garlic are aged under specialized conditions until the cloves turn inky black and develop a sticky date-like texture. And the taste? Out of this world. Sweet, earthy, minus the allium’s characteristic heat—think of it as garlic’s umami-packed shadow. For in-the-know chefs, it’s the shortcut to adding intense “what is that?” flavor to everything from mayo to steak. “Nothing compares to black garlic," says Sarah Rich, the co-chef of Rich Table in San Francisco. "The way it’s aged brings out so many rich subtleties. It’s thrilling to taste something so completely unique.”
1. What Is Black Garlic Anyway?
How does garlic become something so different? When bulbs are kept for weeks at low temperatures in a humid environment, the enzymes that give fresh garlic its sharpness break down. Those conditions also facilitate the Maillard reaction, the chemical process that produces wild new flavor compounds responsible for the deep taste of seared meat and fried onions.
What does it taste like? Aged balsamic, prune, licorice, molasses, caramel, tamarind.
2. How to Make It
Every nerdy chef worth his hand-harvested sea salt is experimenting with making the stuff in-house (including BA test kitchen manager Brad Leone). The trick? A rice cooker. The “warm” setting creates the right environment for transforming heads of garlic into black gold (assuming you have a few weeks to spare).
3. How to Use It
•Use the cloves as you would roasted garlic: Purée them with oil, then smear the paste on crostini, incorporate it into dressings, or rub it onto chicken or fish before roasting.
•Powdered, it’s like umami fairy dust: Sprinkle it on anything that wants some earthiness and depth.
4. Spotted: Black Garlic on Menus
•Spiced Cauliflower with Avocado and Black Garlic at a.kitchen, Philadelphia
• Cream of Mushroom Soup with Black Garlic Sherry Panna Cotta at Perennial Virant, Chicago
• Skirt Steak Rubbed with Black Garlic at Upland, NYC
• Smoked Potatoes with Black Garlic Vinaigrette at Bar Tartine, San Francisco
• Burnt Leeks with Black Garlic Vinegar at Sitka & Spruce, Seattle
5. Where to Buy It
Black garlic is available in a number of forms — from whole heads to peeled cloves to a dehydrated powder — at specialty spice shops, some Whole Foods markets, and online at The Garlic Clubb.
The Garlic Clubb
We welcome you to learn more about all of the health benefits as well as the culinary splendor of our delicious BLACK GARLIC, MUSIC GARLIC POWDER as well as our selection of SEED GARLIC, CULINARY GARLIC and GARLIC SCAPES!