Black garlic is one of those ingredients that inspires you to play around. The sweet, umami-rich flavor bares practically no resemblance to raw garlic, much in the same way that kimchi tastes very different than plain old cabbage. A Korean specialty, black garlic is simply regular garlic that has been fermented through heat. But unlike other fermented foods, the fermentation process mellows garlic instead of making it sharper, and it’s said to have twice as many antioxidants as regular garlic. The texture becomes like a firm jelly, and the flavor has hints of soy sauce, molasses, and honey. It’s so good I like to eat it raw, and it doesn’t leave you with garlic breath (not that I have anything against garlic breath).
When I realized that I haven’t done a garlic blog hop yet, I knew I had to remedy that and it gave me the perfect opportunity to experiment with the heads of black garlic I have laying around (those of you in Israel, I’ve gotten it at Tel Aviv’s Shuk HaNamal/Port Market as well as Eden Teva in Be’er Sheva). Although black garlic has a distinct taste, when cooked with other ingredients it sort of fades into the background, acting more as an accent note than a starring role. But there’s no doubt that it adds something special, a certain je ne sais quoi that comes with umami, also known as the fifth flavor.
Besides smearing raw black garlic on toasted bread and popping cloves right in my mouth, I also added it to a marinade for steak (5 cloves chopped black garlic, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tbs soy sauce, 2 tbs date honey, salt and pepper for 1 pound/500g steak). After I cooked the steak in my cast iron pan I set it aside to let it rest and boiled the remaining marinade to kill any bacteria and thicken it. Some added sliced mushrooms made it the perfect gravy to top the steak. Next I tried a black garlic aioli as a dipping sauce for homemade sweet potato fries, but it would be just as good on any sandwich. Even with 6 cloves of black garlic its flavor in the aioli was still subtle, though it turned it an alluring charcoal gray color. (To make it I whisked together 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp mustard, 6 cloves minced black garlic, and 1 cup + 2 tbs. grapeseed oil.)
But this dip was my favorite. I really wanted to pair black garlic with earthy mushrooms since I thought the flavors would play off each other nicely. To be honest this recipe started out as a filling for little puff pastry bites, but then my oven stopped working so I had to move to plan B. Next I was going to make a vegetarian mousse or pate inspired by Dirt Candy, but then I realized if I just added yogurt I’d have a delicious, unusual dip. Done. The caramelized onions and dash of balsamic at the end give the dip a little sweetness, while the black garlic enhances the flavor of the mushrooms. It’s creamy and delicious, perfect for veggies or chips. To make it even thicker, use half cream cheese.
- 1 large or 2 small onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 12½ ounces (355g) mushrooms (like button and cremini), roughly chopped
- 1 head black garlic, peeled and cloves roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon marsala or sweet red wine
- ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
- Put the onions in a dry pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until any liquid they exude evaporates.
- Add the butter and, once it has melted, lower the heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized.
- Add the mushrooms and black garlic and sauté for another 5 to 10 minutes, until very soft and dark.
- Stir in the marsala and balsamic and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and pulse until you get the consistency you like (for a chunky or smooth dip).
- Allow to cool fully (refrigerate to speed things up). Put in a bowl with the yogurt and mix well to combine. Serve immediately or cover, refrigerate, and serve within 24 hours.
If the blog hop doesn’t show up below, click here to view the collection and link up!