I found this at ASPAM in Aomori City:
Black garlic is made by fermenting an entire head of garlic in a hot, controlled room for a prolonged period of time. From the outside it appears like normal garlic, but the cloves, when unwrapped, are charcoal black. Its texture is creamy and soft, almost gelatinous. It’s a hot new food recently, and has been featured in everything from Iron Chef to the New York Times. Some claim that it contains many times the antioxidant power of normal garlic – not only that, but it’s flavor is (says blackgarlic.com) “a perfect mix of molasses-like richness and tangy garlic undertones.”
Without knowing any of this, I purchased the 480 yen head of fermented garlic and took it back home with me. The advertisements promised that it was edible “as is,” so I started by unwrapping a clove.
Now, I consider myself pretty tolerant of a variety of strong flavors – not only do I like garlic, but I also enjoy stinky cheeses, fermented soybeans and a great variety of pickled vegetables – so I was kind of shocked when I found myself fighting to keep the slimy, black glob in my mouth. That first bite didn’t taste much like balsamic vinegar or molasses – to be honest, it tasted just like what it is, fermented garlic. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this was not it.
Ifelt discouraged by my expensive purchase and reluctant to ingest any more of the stuff. But combing through internet resources yielded some recipes that sounded promising. Though I didn’t care for the flavor on it’s own, sauteeing the garlic with olive oil and herbs brought out the flavors that the New York Times told me I could expect. After trying this simple recipe, I’m much more enthusiastic about the culinary possibilities of black garlic.
Black Garlic Pasta
- enough pasta for one person
- 3 cloves black garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped herbs (I used celery leaves because I still had surplus from making pickles last week)
- 1 small dried hot pepper, minced, seeds removed
- salt and black pepper
- Prepare pasta and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a pan. Add black garlic and sautee until fragrant.
- Add peppers and toss quickly. Add pasta, herbs and salt and pepper, tossing until well mixed.
- Serve with grated Parmesan cheese
If you’re interested in trying this for yourself, check out blackgarlic.com, or other online vendors. It’s a pricey purchase – but if you’re into experimenting with unusual flavors or planning to entertain a food snob in the near future, please consider this option.