Fermented Black Garlic

It has been a busy summer, with tons of visitors, a full apartment, and a jam-packed schedule. But at long last, one night last week I had my place to myself. Chops was still working, and I decided to cook something weird just for myself.

I found fermented black garlic at the co-op, and my curiosity was piqued as I began to research how it was used. It’s typically found in Asian cuisine, but is also said to be rich in anti-oxidants and is sometimes touted as a health food, which is surprising because as I peeled back the bulbs, it didn’t really look like something I should be eating:

Peeled Black Garlic

1. Resorting to Risotto
I found a recipe that, interestingly enough, uses black garlic in risotto. Here’s the link:

http://www.offthemeathook.com/2009/07/20/recipe-risotto-with-black-garlic-and-oyster-mushrooms/

I wish I had thought to use sake in place of the white wine in the recipe to continue bring together an Italian-Asian melange.

Having never made risotto before, I had always thought the creamy consistency of the rice was the result of oodles and oodles of cream and butter, but was surprised that the vast majority of the liquid in the recipe is chicken broth, and that the creamy consistency of the risotto is a characteristic of the Arborio rice. Arborio rice has a higher starch content than most traditional rices grains. When cooked, this starch is released, helping to create the creamy consistency that makes risotto so wonderful.

2. Black Cloves
When it came time to add the cloves of black garlic to the risotto, I was surprised after completely peeling them to find that their consistently was soft, and that the fragrance of garlic seemed to be amplified, and it wafted unwaveringly into my nose. It wasn’t an over-powering smell, but definitely stronger than I was expecting.

Fermented black garlic peeled and laying on a cutting board

The cloves themselves stuck to my knife as I attempted to dice them, and although the comparison is unappetizing, I began to feel like a witch chopping up leeches for her brew.

Once the risotto was ready, I spooned a helping into a bowl, topped it with mushrooms, and garnished with steamed kale I had made on the side. I sprinkled a few drops of black truffle oil over the dish to help enhance the earthy, delicately sweet notes of both the fermented black garlic and the mushrooms.

Mushroom and black garlic risotto

3. The Verdict
After the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks, I sat down to dinner in the quiet, sunny evening hours of summer in Seattle. A breeze blew through the open windows in my living room and kitchen, giving some relief to the heat of the stove top range. I poured myself a glass of chardonnay and sat on my couch enjoying the silence, my meal, and a night to myself.

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