The first time I heard about Korean black garlic was back in October of 2008, in a NYT story by Florence Fabricant, but avant garde chefs, like Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, had already started playing with it in early 2008.
It didn’t make any trend lists that year, but by the end of 2009, it was on several “hot new food trend” lists.
The fermented garlic started turning up on more restaurant menus like Blackbird in Chicago, David Paul’s in Lahaina (Maui), wd~50 in New York throughout 2009.
And in January 2010, it landed at Crudo, in Phoenix.
Now, home cooks can buy black garlic at Whole Foods ($12.99, 5.47 oz.), from a company called — straightforward enough — Black Garlic.
What exactly is black garlic? It’s real garlic that’s been through a 3-week fermentation process, and 1-week drying process, using a variety of temperatures and humidity levels.
Is it really safe to eat? I assume so, since I’ve been snacking on the tasty orbs for the past few months.
The sticky, black cloves taste sweet, almost raisiny, with the faintest hint of garlic flavor.
You can slice or chop them to use as a garnish on any number of dishes from pasta to risotto to bruschetta.
The Black Garlic website has a handful of recipes, but if you google “black garlic recipes,” you’ll find more and more chefs and bloggers experimenting with this new “toy.”
You can make a paste by mashing the cloves with some olive oil in a mortal and pestle, and use the paste to boost the flavor of soups and sauces.
I used the paste as a spread on a turkey and brie sandwich, with thinly sliced Granny Smith apples.
So, go ahead. Splurge. A little goes a long way, and since it’s fermented, once opened, it will keep in the refrigerator for months.
Have you used black garlic in your kitchen?