Just a Pinch – Imperial Black Garlic
This product was tested and reviewed by Carol one of our talented non-blogging members.
Have you succumbed to the latest food trends? Has an artfully decorated cupcake adorned your kitchen counter? Or has a new twist on Quinoa Salad been your potluck supper contribution? Or better yet, have you sprinkled bacon bits over popcorn just because bacon makes everything taste better?
Food trends meander through the cooking world as artfully as food trucks through busy downtown streets. One of the trendy ingredients that have recently shown up in my local grocery was Black Garlic! I have seen it as an ingredient on several cooking shows – Top Chef and Chopped – and it sounded intriguing and exotic. While garlic, which has waxed and waned as a food trend ingredient over the years, is a staple in my kitchen, perhaps black garlic could step it up a little.
Imperial Black Garlic by Just a Pinch, is naturally aged and the packaging suggests that you use it in all your favourite dishes for a unique garlic flavour. It is 100% Korean Black Garlic and is grown in Namhae, the premier garlic region of South Korea. The package had 2 garlic bulbs and cost $4.99 (CAN).
How does garlic become black? Black garlic is produced by a process of fermentation, a technique that has been around for many thousands of years. In Korea, black garlic is produced for its health benefits and in Thailand, it is touted to help with longevity. Whole garlic bulbs are fermented at high temperatures and the sugar and amino acids produce melanoidin, a dark-colored substance that changes the color of the cloves to black! The ancient method involved burying the cloves underground for some 45 days. Now, there is a company in California that has developed a process that speeds up the whole process by a machine. And for the Do-It-Yourselfers, this site tells you how to make your own - http://www.ehow.com/how_5902625_make-black-garlic.html .
The tasted is sweet, syrupy similar to balsamic vinegar glaze or molasses, with a much milder flavour of garlic. It’s very sticky and very moist, and very black! I was anxious to try it in my cooking.
There is a very good site on the internet that offers an array of black garlic recipes - http://blackgarlic.com/category/category/recipes. I incorporated some of the ideas into the following dishes. I used black garlic as I would regular garlic. In my kitchen, I used it to prepare Herb and Black Garlic Crusted Rack of Lamb and Black Garlic Roasted New Potatoes.
The lamb and potatoes had a mild garlic flavour with a hint of sweet. I would of used more garlic cloves in both.
I prepared a Black Garlic Vinaigrette for a Green Salad.
The black garlic was difficult to incorporate into the vinaigrette – it involved a lot of whipping. The flavour was similar to balsamic vinaigrette.
Here is bread dipping oil.
We enjoyed the dipping oil with the chunky, minced garlic – and for me, perhaps its best application in my kitchen.
A Sunday evening dinner consisting of Black Garlic Risotto and Black Garlic Marinated Grilled Chicken.
By this dinner, I was getting the hang of black garlic and both dishes were delicious with just the right amount of sweet and garlic.
And finally, Dark Chocolate, Almond and Black Garlic Torte – alas I did succumb to the food trend of garlic in sweets!
While the torte was good, the garlic flavour gave it a little metallic taste. My husband said it was me and thought it was delicious!
Assessment: In my kitchen, I found it a difficult ingredient to use. It’s very sticky, thus very difficult to mince. Tedious is the word that comes to mind.
As a result, its difficult to incorporate into sauces as it clumps together – see the bits in the risotto first picture. The dipping oil worked so well because the oil separated the bits of garlic.
I peeled the cloves and let them sit for 5 days in an attempt to dry them out – it didn’t! So I ended up smashing and smearing the cloves! This worked better!
The color is a little off putting– the muddy looking vinaigrette and risotto. However, the flavour was delicious. A sweet, mild garlic flavour is definitely delivered! The flavour is very mild, so you have to use a lot more than you would regular garlic if you want any garlic punch delivered - to marinate the chicken, it took 5 cloves! This can get to be quite pricey at $2.50 a bulb!
In the end, black garlic is a novel ingredient and I think its quickly speeding down the food trend highway. It’s difficult to work with and expensive. It delivers an interesting garlic flavour, yet I think I could replicate a similar flavour with regular garlic and balsamic glaze if I though a dish called for it. You may want to try if you have a special occasion dish or dinner party – it would make for interesting chat.