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!