Garlic has been a favourite with chefs for years. But recently some international chefs have abandoned their friend. They’ve eliminated garlic from dishes saying customers have thanked them for giving them ‘a breath of fresh air’.
But I can’t imagine aioli or most pasta or Asian dishes without a little garlic. If the chef wants an odour-free restaurant then there are ways of disguising the sharpness of this aromatic bulb.
Black garlic is common white garlic that is aged for about six weeks in a temperature-controlled room, triggering fermentation. This special process causes the garlic to turn a very dark brownish-black colour. It also creates a soft texture and sweet taste with a delicate aroma.
This intriguing flavour adds depth and umami to many dishes. It’s popular on cheese boards but can also be crushed or chopped and added to dips, dressings, sauces and mains. I’ve even dipped cloves in dark chocolate, allowed them to set and then served them with coffee.
White garlic can also be preserved (confit) in olive oil which reduces its pungency. The cloves can be crushed or chopped, or the flavoured oil used for frying. Alternatively, the cloves can be steamed.
Many chefs realise that garlic has a reputation as a preventative medicine. When garlic is crushed, the amino acid released is believed to be responsible for the clove’s antibiotic effects. It also promotes cardiovascular activity and eases breathing. So a little is a healthy boost.
PUMPKIN & FENNEL SALAD WITH BLACK GARLIC AIOLI
Black garlic is available from selected delis, greengrocers and supermarkets. Or online at garlic.co.nz. It has a long shelf life.
Black Garlic Aioli: 6 cloves black garlic
1 large clove white garlic, crushed
1 room-temperature egg yolk
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup canola oil
Salad: 500g pumpkin, seeded and peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
300g fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced into 1cm rounds
1 large orange, peeled and cubed
1 large avocado stoned, peeled and cubed
6-8 cloves black garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
To make the aioli, place the black garlic in a small food processor or blender. Process until the garlic is smooth. Scrape down the processor sides.
Add the white garlic, egg yolk and balsamic vinegar to the food processor. Mix until the ingredients are well blended.
With the motor running, slowly add the oil in a thin stream. This will take about 2 minutes. Continue processing until the aioli is thick and creamy. This can be stored in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Makes about 1 cup.
To make the salad first preheat the oven to 200°C.
Cut the pumpkin into 3cm cubes. Place in a roasting pan with the olive oil and seasonings. Toss to coat evenly. Roast for 8 minutes. Add the fennel and cook for 5 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. Cool.
Place the pumpkin mixture in a salad bowl. Add the remaining ingredients. Serve at room temperature with the garlic aioli. Serves 4-6.
BLACK GARLIC PAPPARDELLE
200g pappardelle pasta
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
20 (50g) cloves black garlic
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons butter
4 sundried tomatoes, drained and sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain and toss with a smidgen of olive oil. Cover and set aside.
Halve the cloves of black garlic.
To make the sauce, heat the remaining olive oil in a medium-large frying pan on medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened and beginning to colour, about 4 minutes. Add the black garlic and toss with the shallots. Pour in the wine and boil until reduced by about 1/3. Add the butter and swirl until melted into the wine. Season.
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce. Carefully combine with the sauce and warm through. Serves 2.
CRISPY GARLIC CHICKEN
White garlic is used in this inside-out Chicken Kiev recipe.
2 large skinned and boned chicken breasts
50g butter, softened
2 cloves white garlic, crushed
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1-2 teaspoons dried dill leaves
Slice the chicken in half lengthwise. Form into even shapes. Combine the butter with the garlic. Rub the chicken all over with a little of the butter.
Combine the remaining butter with the breadcrumbs. Preheat a grill.
Pan-fry the chicken on medium heat — preferably in a ridged frying pan — for about 5 minutes each side or until just cooked.
Place the chicken on a rack on a baking tray. Pat the breadcrumbs evenly over the chicken. . Sprinkle with the dill. Grill for 3-4 minutes until the crumbs are golden and crisp. Serves 4.