This post was made possible by Sainsbury’s, who sent me some black garlic to try. The opinions in the post are, as ever, mine, and the review is honest.
I heard about black garlic a couple of years ago, and went as far as to see where I could buy it, and then… stopped. I kind of forgot about it. It was there in the back of my mind, but I never took the extra step of actually getting some until Sainsbury’s asked if I wanted to try it. So really, it’s worked out for the best.
I think the first thing to note, as was very much noted on Facebook when I posted this picture there, is that ‘jelly-like’ is not the best way to describe any food that isn’t jelly. Even then… there’s something offputting about it.
Depending who you ask, black garlic is preserved, fermented or plain old caramelised. Fermented is the most on-trend word to use right now, but sadly it’s also the least accurate. In fact, it’s completely inaccurate, there’s no fermentation whatsoever going on. It’s heated and heated and heated, but not fermented.
This is what lurks inside that papery husk. Cool, isn’t it? Think of it as super-duper roasted garlic – it’s sweet, and mild, with (as the packaging promises) balsamic and treacle notes. And it’s black as the depths of the ocean, if not blacker.
You can use it in any recipe that calls for garlic, and even some that traditionally don’t, since the garlic flavour is so much more subtle than its white counterpart. Which is really counter-intuitive, because just look at it. It looks like death metal garlic. It looks like it’s going to taste really strong, and maybe of liquorice. It’s a little sticky, too, so if you’re chopping it up, a swipe of oil along the blade of the knife might not be a bad idea.
The first thing I wanted to try was hummus – it’s delightfully easy to make, so I wouldn’t have to wait long to taste test it. But, of course, I wasn’t going to make a plain old ordinary hummus. No, no. It was hummus for goths I was planning. Goths need snacks, too, you know. I assembled a trifecta of pitch-black ingredients: black garlic, black sesame seeds, and black salt.
The black salt – which you can see featured in my banner photo above – is flakes of sea salt mixed with carbon, for the distinctive colour and a hint of scorchy bitterness in the flavour. The black sesame seeds are more commonly found round the outside of sushi. In fact, when I was buying them, the woman on the checkout asked me if that’s what I was making. I hesitated for a moment before saying no, I was actually making a black garlic and sesame hummus. She was briefly fazed, before saying ‘sounds perfectly normal to me.’ Good job, checkout woman.
I made this hummus in the food processor, though it can also be done by hand, either with a fork or with a knife and patience. This was how I did it:
- 400g tin chickpeas in brine – drained, but with 1 – 2 tsp brine reserved
- 2 cloves black garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 – 2 tsp black sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp black (or plain) sea salt
- a squeeze of lemon juice, to taste
Everything except the brine from the chickpeas and the lemon juice goes into the bowl of the food processor. Whizz it all up until the black garlic is evenly dispersed, and then add enough of the brine so that the hummus is smooth – I used about a teaspoon. Have a taste, and add lemon juice until it’s the way you like it. A couple of small squeezes were enough for my liking. You could also add black pepper (goth pepper), if you fancy it.
Sprinkle with more sesame seeds – the tiny crunch you get from them is great – and serve.
I’ve looked up some more ways to use black garlic, and I do believe there’s a risotto on the cards, but for a quick way to get trying, this hummus is the way to go. It’s not what you might call a traditional recipe, but that’s never stopped me before.