Have you ever tasted an ingredient so inspiring and delicious that it made you mad? Like, “I’m 36-years-old and I’m just tasting this for the first time now!? I’ve wasted half my life!” That is exactly what ran through my mind when I tasted Black Garlic Molasses at the Fancy Food Show this summer.
Pressing for more info, my frustrations were quelled when it was explained to me that nobody has tasted this before. It’s brand new to the market, and its very existence is somewhat of a fluke.
A SERENDIPITOUS TRIP TO A PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY
Dave Vohaska is the man responsible not only for bringing this product to the United States, but for identifying its viability in the specialty food world. An importer of premium Japanese condiments, Dave was in Aomori, Japan visiting a black garlic producer when he noticed a thick, dark-black syrup on the production line in another room. Thinking it was fig molasses, he asked if he would be able to sample it. He was told that it was, in fact, a molasses derived of black garlic, and that it wasn’t finished yet. The molasses was on its way to an oxygen vacuum tank, which would reduce it to the texture of shoe polish, before it would be dehydrated into a powder. That powder would then be packed into pill form and distributed to state-run elderly homes to combat Alzheimer’s and dementia.
As Dave wrote to me: “The Japanese Gov’t spent all kinds of money in research on black garlic and its medical benefits. They have been giving these grants to small producers of black garlic to purchase the equipment to further process the black garlic into tablets.”
YOU’RE NOT GOING TO LET THAT SUBLIME GARLIC NECTAR GO TO WASTE, ARE YOU?
Fortunately, Dave insisted on trying it, and immediately recognized great potential in this product as-is. No need to pulverize it to reap the benefits, and molasses tastes way better than a pill anyway. He convinced them to bottle it and ship it to America.
MADE IN JAPAN, TASTES LIKE ITALY
Having grown up in the Italian Market, I am unfamiliar with the concept of not liking garlic. (Our rule for calculating the amount of garlic needed is to take the advised amount, double it, then add one, just to be safe). But if you are turned off by its pungency, black garlic might be worth trying. Black garlic is, essentially, naturally-fermented garlic, achieved by gently heating fresh bulbs in a controlled environment for 1-2 months. During fermentation, the pungency dissipates, but the sweet, fruity, savory flavors remain.
If you slow-roast that black garlic so that the sugars caramelize and concentrate into a syrup, that’s black garlic molasses. Envision extra-aged, super-viscous balsamic vinegar. Now imagine it with less acidity and add an underlying current of garlic-umami goodness. That’s what you have here.
HOW TO USE IT
Frankly, I’ve been enjoying it straight off the spoon. But here are some fun things to try:
- Caprese Salad
Layer sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, then crank it up to 11 with a drizzle of this.
- Stir Fry
Your choice of veggies, maybe some diced or shredded chicken, pork or fish, flash dried in olive oil and finished with black garlic molasses.
- Glaze your proteins
Use a pastry brush to gently gloss over pork loin, porterhouse, or roasted chicken.
Prepared traditionally with onions and chicken broth, but rendered “Wow” by mixing in this at the end. It’s quite striking visually, too.
- Garlicky mashed potatoes
Extra creamy style, almost cloud-like, with this swirled in just before serving.
Black Garlic Molasses Ramen
by Jackie Botto
- Elevate your instant ramen with this perfect-for-fall recipe!
- 1. Marinate a pork tenderloin in equal parts Black Garlic Molasses and soy sauce for at least 1 hour.
- 2. Prepare your favorite instant ramen noodles and broth.
- 3. Sear tenderloin on 4 sides about 2 minutes per side.
- 4. Allow pork to rest.
- 5. In the same pan, add sliced mushrooms and a drizzle of oil (preferably sesame). Saute until they reach a deep brown color.
- 6. Finish mushrooms with a drizzle of the black garlic molasses.
- 7. Top the ramen with sliced pork, and mushrooms.
Additional tasty add-ons:
– Sliced scallions
– Nori sheets
– An eight minute egg
– Japanese Togarashi spice
Roasted Pork Loin w/ Black Garlic Risotto
by Hunter Fike
Cooking Time: 4 hours. Active time: one hour.
~3lb Pork Loin
2 – 32oz package of chicken stock or broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: rosemary, thyme
16oz risotto rice, ideally Carnaroli
1 small onion
3 cloves fresh garlic
Black Garlic Molasses
Optional: Yuzu Oil
- Set the oven to 200 degrees.
- At least one hour ahead of time (or just before, if you forget, or don’t have time), salt and pepper all sides of the pork loin.
- In a crock pot large enough to fit the entire loin, sear all sides of the loin. About three minutes per side.
- Add one package of chicken stock/broth to the pot. It should come about half way up the loin. Add a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme, cover the pot, and put in the oven. Cook until internal temperature has reached 145 degrees. About 3-4 hours, depending on your oven.
- About 45 minutes prior to dinner, add olive oil to a high-walled pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the second package of chicken stock to a separate pan over medium-low heat.
- Dice the onion and simmer in the olive oil until it becomes aromatic, 2-3 minutes. They should be tender, and just starting to brown.
- Mince the garlic and add to the onions. Turn the heat down to medium to ensure you don’t burn either.
- After the garlic becomes aromatic, add all the rice and evenly mix into the onions with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Open the oven, and take about two cups of the stock from the pork loin and add it to the risotto rice.
- Continue to cook the rice, stirring constantly, until all of the stock is absorbed. Then add a half cup of the stock warming on the stove.
- Continue to add stock a half cup at a time until it is all absorbed. Stir constantly. About half an hour.
- Note that at no point should the stock be boiling. The rice needs to slowly absorb the stock in order for the texture to come out right.
- Taste to confirm the texture is creamy and the rice is ready to serve. Add a swirl of black garlic molasses to the pan, making concentric circles. Then stir into the rice. Remove from the heat.
- Remove the pork loin from the oven and slice into portions. Plate next to the risotto and drizzle both with a bit more black garlic molasses. For an added boost of flavor, drizzle yuzu oil over the risotto. The interplay of garlic and citrusy yuzu is truly delightful.
- If desired, pour the stock from the pork loin into a gravy boat and serve at the table.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hunter is a Di Bruno lifer. For as long as he can remember, his mom brought him into the cramped, aromatic Italian Market location as a weekly ritual. Before graduating high school, he was working behind the counter, slicing prosciutto, and making the famed cheese spreads in twenty pound batches.
He now serves as head cheese monger, and he has had the distinct pleasure of traveling the world with Emilio, honing his palate over countless dinners, trainings, and trade shows.
In Food 4 Thought, Hunter’s mission is to share our favorite discoveries while addressing the impact they have beyond the culinary world. We believe that the best foods have a story to tell. They’re crafted with consciousness; they honor the past with an eye towards the future. These are the products we’re most proud to have on our shelves, and the producers we’re most passionate about supporting.
Please comment on the blog. Come talk to a monger. Cook for friends and family. Come join the conversation!
Leave a Reply