Garlic: revisited

Posted on 3 min read

If you are not a big fan of garlic then the next line is going to make your eyebrows rise: take a cup of raw garlic and… What do you think we can do with that amount? Soup, candy, salad? Nope, nope and nope, we are making sauce today. A Lebanese specialty called toum, though there are plenty of online recipes that call it eggless mayo. Probably, because everything sells better with the word “mayo” in it.

What is it? For those who like it, it’s a hysterically daring spread that can easily seduce you into devouring a fresh baguette in one sit. For those who accept things without emotions, toum is a vegan alternative to mayonnaise. And those who hate garlic as an ingredient might recognize toum as an energetic pungent kick in the nose. But we hope you’re gonna love it as much as it should be loved. Why? Because it’s so great with anything and on everything. Smear it on your toast, combine it into meat marinades, mix it into your salads, add it to any dish that requires a nice garlic-y punch.

What’s even more important is that, unlike many other potent sauces, this one is made rather simple with only 5 ingredients, with garlic being the trickiest part of the equation, and that only due to the fact it needs to be peeled. But the good news that you can buy pre-peeled cloves. If you can’t stock them, it’s a pity – accept your fate, put on your favorite music and try to tune in to the meditativeness of the peeling process.

Then just throw everything (one cup, remember? That’s approximately 130-150 gr) in a food processor with some salt (1-2 tsp) and 50 gr / ¼ cup lemon juice. What you need to do is to pulse everything in short bursts until mixture looks like thick yogurt.

Then, like in making mayonnaise, you’ll need to form an emulsion of two phases. So, you’ll need some oil. A lot of it actually. 600 ml / 3 cups to be correct. Start drizzling very slowly, with the processor running all the way, in a thin stream. Use ½ cup and add 1 Tbsp water (because emulsions need both oil and water). Then continue until every drop has been incorporated. If you are lucky, and we believe you are, you’ll have a nice batch of thick, creamy, delicious, and potent toum. Now you only need to scrape it into a container, leaving yourself a spoonful or another to give it a try right away. Use it as a spread and coat your bread with it, use it as a dip for your chips or raw veggies, mix it with another dip like hummus or baba ganoush, drown it into minestrone or cream of tomato. Use imagination!

N.B. There is also a good old-fashioned method of making toum. For those of you who despise technology of the modern era, we suggest using mortar and pestle. Chances are that yours are not spacious enough to take all toum in one go. Halve or even quarter your ingredients amount. Work garlic and salt into paste, then add a little oil, then a few drops of lemon juice, then oil again. A little muscle work and, boom, you’ve got toum.

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