Garlic belongs to the lily family. It is cousins to onion, leeks, and chives. Small in size but bold in flavour. Pungent when it first hits the palette, then mellows to a subtle sweetness. Garlic transforms any meal into an aromatic and healthy culinary experience. The fleshy cloves are arranged in a bulb encased in papery sheathes that comes in different shades. Native to Central Asia, this pungent vegetable has been grown for 5,000 years. Garlic was cultivated by ancient Egyptians. It was placed in Pharaoh’s tombs, and given to builders of pyramids for endurance and strength. The Greeks and Romans gave it to their athletes before sporting events, and to soldiers before they headed to wars.
Store garlic bulbs in cool dry place away from direct sunlight, in a brown bag or container with loose fitting lid. That way the garlic will maintain maximum freshness and delay sprouting which would reduce its flavour.
To prepare garlic, chop or mince the cloves, let stand for 5 minutes to let the enzymes in the garlic to convert the phytonutrients to which many of garlic’s health benefits are attributed. Garlic is well known for its antimicrobial and cholesterol-lowering properties. Garlic is best eaten raw but if you cannot stand the pungency, cook garlic in minimal heat and time.
If you can stand raw garlic, we recommend hummus and baba ghanoush. The garlic imparts an accent to the rich pastes. We have another way to use raw garlic, it is a simple dipping sauce for steamed eggplants. Cut up eggplants to size of your fingers. Steam them until they soften. Prepare dipping sauce by adding soy sauce, sugar (mirin or honey works just fine), and a few drops of sesame oil to a clove or two of minced garlic. The minced garlic naturally releases a sticky slime that thickens the dipping sauce slightly and makes the sauce more coherent. The steamed eggplant may not look very appetizing but looks can be deceiving. Wait until you try them with the dipping sauce.