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Recipes, Regional Foods, Travel, Unusual Foods

Black Garlic

I found this at ASPAM in Aomori City:

Black Garlic (Wrapper)

Aomori Black Garlic

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 “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.

Black Garlic

Definitely not misnamed.

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
Black Garlic Pasta
  1. Prepare pasta and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add black garlic and sautee until fragrant. 
  3. Add peppers and toss quickly. Add pasta, herbs and salt and pepper, tossing until well mixed. 
  4. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese

If you’re interested in trying this for yourself, check out, 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.


6 thoughts on “Black Garlic

  1. So how was it?

    Posted by Tammy Patrick | May 17, 2011, 1:34 pm
    • Delicious! It had a distinct garlic flavor, but the sharpness of garlic was replaced with a vinegary tang that went really well with the olive oil. And the combination of colors was really pleasing to look at as well.

      Posted by cheruko | May 23, 2011, 9:09 am
      • I knew it all along that garlic is good for our health, but I never like the flavor of it. Not long ago, I heard about the term “black garlic”, and read about some articles regarding the topic, then I’ve finally got a chance to taste the black garlic in a variety fair, it really doesn’t have the strong unpleasant flavor of garlic, it’s kind of expensive though, US25.00 for 100g.

        Posted by Cecilia | January 27, 2013, 12:31 pm
      • Thank you for your comment! True, it really is expensive. I’m sure that relatively low demand and the labor-intensive process of making it contribute to the high price – but even so, I don’t think I could afford to eat it regularly.

        Posted by cheruko | January 27, 2013, 6:45 pm
  2. Trader Joes is carrying it and therefore, quite inexpensive!

    Tim Radak
    J.E.T Hiroshima 93-96

    Posted by T Radak | July 29, 2014, 9:05 am


  1. Pingback: Japanese Company Creates Garlic-Flavored Dark Beer | Oddity Central - Collecting Oddities - October 26, 2013

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