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If you, like me, prefer the slightly sweet, caramelized goodness of roasted garlic over its sharp, raw, breath-busting counterpart, then black garlic will blow your mind. Well known throughout Asia, this sticky clove originally from South Korea has hit North America harder than “Gangnam Style.” The deep, syrupy flavour comes not from microbial fermentation (as oft reported) but via a process of heating over several weeks. Try it anywhere you would use a regular clove; think roast chicken, crostini, or hummus.
Black Garlic Thyme Butter
What follows is an easy recipe that’s delicious with grilled steak (or mushrooms) and easy on the breath
2-3 cloves black garlic1/4 cup unsalted butter3 sprigs thyme, flowers removed2-3 turns from the pepper mill1 pinch Maldon (or other) salt
Place butter, thyme, and pepper in a sauté pan and melt over medium heat. With a wooden spoon, mash garlic cloves and incorporate into butter. Cloves will break down into paste and some small chunks over 2-3 minutes. Grill 1-2 large cuts steak, let them rest, then slice and top with black garlic thyme butter. Serves 4-6 family-style.
At Jinya Ramen (270 Robson St., 604-568-9711. Jinya-ramenbar.com) black garlic oil is the secret to their signature Jinya Tonkotsu Black. Chef Andrea Carlson of Burdock & Co (2702 Main St., 604-879-0077. Burdockandco.com) uses it in her preparation of seared sturgeon with black garlic vinaigrette. Pick up some bulbs at South China Seas (Granville Island Market, 604-681-5402. Southchinaseas.ca) or stateside at Trader Joe’s (2410 James St., Bellingham, 360-734-5166. Traderjoes.com).