Black garlic. The name is at once romantic and slightly dangerous sounding, and the word “fermented” on the label holds further promise, but first you want to know, “What the hell is black garlic?”
Used primarily in the cooking of Korea, Thailand, and Japan, black garlic is full heads that have been fermented for about a month at elevated temperature, resulting in a silky grayish appearance, and individual cloves that, when peeled, are shiny and black and somewhat stunted. The texture becomes dense and almost chewy.
But indeed, if the visual appearance is interesting, the flavor is spectacular. You can readily eat the cloves plain–the flavor is something like a sweet soy-sauce gummy bear. You can cut them into slices, and sprinkle them on a salad, or crush them with the back of a spoon and spread them on bread or on a cracker. Float a few in soup as you serve it. Or incorporate it into a vinaigrette.
Black garlic is available at Kalustyan’s, an Armenian grocer in Murray Hill that has recently expanded into an additional storefront, making one of the most perfect places to score arcane sauces, spices, and finished food substances, mainly from the Middle East, Near East, and South Asia. 123 Lexington Avenue, 212-685-3451