This condiment is one of my favorite things to make in the summer, when garlic is fresh and in-season. It's a classic sauce in Lebanon, and fantastic on kebabs and other traditional dishes, but try elsewhere for a nice surprise (I've made some suggestions). The basic recipe is only five ingredients, and I've suggested some ways to spice it up, as usual. It's vegan, so is perfect for people who can't have eggs and are thus missing out on mayo.
Makes about 4 cups
1 cup of peeled fresh garlic cloves - remove any dark parts (140 grams)
4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice - one large or two regular lemons (60 grams)
4 Tbsp ice-cold water (60 grams)
3 cups high-oleic safflower oil - or other neutral flavored oil* (650 grams)
In a standard 8-cup food processor mince the garlic and salt, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add two tablespoons of lemon juice and continue to process until the garlic is extremely fine and has increased in volume a bit (I find this takes about 2 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides).
You'll now leave the processor running for the rest of the additions.
Slowly add 1/2 cup of oil, then 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Then 1/2 cup of oil, then lemon juice. You'll be out of juice at this point so switch to the ice water after each addition of oil (it serves a similar purpose here as it does when making tahini sauce). Note, heat is your enemy here, if it's particularly hot in your kitchen, chilling all the ingredients beforehand will help.
Leave the processor running for about a minute after the final addition to fully incorporate.
If storing for later, allow the toum to cool for about 30 minutes, this will prevent condensation from forming which can break the emulsion (meaning the oil will separate out).
Store in tightly sealed containers and exclude air, and it will keep, refrigerated, for at least a month.
The recipe can be halved or doubled, but you'll need to use an appropriately sized food processor.
* you want to be able to taste the garlic, so a strongly-flavored oil like olive is not suitable. Olive pomace oil can work, but I find high-oleic sunflower to have the best texture and flavor, plus the lipid profile is similar to olive (making it about as healthy).
Variations & Ideas
• Add a big pinch of saffron to the garlic when you add the first 2 Tbsp of lemon juice. The color, flavor, and aroma are all wonderful. It’s particularly nice with the last variant of my Beach House Paella.
• Some other fun spices to consider include: Shabazi N.38, sumac, and Izak N.37. Fold these in to a small portion if you like, rather than adding during processing, so you have a pure base to start from to explore other possibilities.
• Try it as a dip for fries or other fried foods. I particularly like it with fried fish.
• Serve as a condiment when having grilled hanger steak or lamb chops. Or add to a taco salad for a great garlic kick (I particularly love Izak and/or Shabazi here as well).
• Try adding 1-2 tsp per cup of rice, after rinsing but before you cook. The fats help the grains stay separate, and the garlic adds a great flavor.
• It’s wonderful spread on hamburger buns before toasting them (like you’d use mayonnaise when making tortas). If you’re vegan this is a great way to make vegan tortas.
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