Talk about unwavering devotion – my obsession with aubergines and Ottolenghi’s style of cooking has not ceased ever since I got back from London. Tonight, I experimented with his Aubergine with Black Garlic recipe set out in his vegetarian cookbook “Plenty More”.
Many of you may be asking “what exactly is black garlic?”. To save you the trouble from wikipedia-ing it, black garlic is the latest “it” ingredient, a new superfood. No, it is not a new strain of garlic nor a mutated garlic derivative. It is simply a type of caramelised garlic made by heating whole bulbs of garlic over the course of several weeks, a process that results in black cloves. The taste is sweet and syrupy with hints of balsamic vinegar or tamarind. It gives an unexpected depth of flavour to dishes. It is mellow enough not to dominate. As an added bonus, it supposedly has twice the antioxidants as regular garlic.
As for black garlics origins, it was first used as a food ingredient in Asian cuisine. Nowadays, its popularity has spread to the United States as it has become a sought-after ingredient used in high-end cuisine. Thanks to its recent appearance on Top Chef and Iron Chef, these two television shows have created newfound fame for this otherwise frightful thing. Trust me, if you found this on your kitchen counter and didn’t know that it was supposed to be black, you would mistaken it for being rotten.
- 3 medium aubergines, sliced widthways into 1.5cm rounds
- 200 ml olive oil
- 8 large or 16 small black garlic cloves
- 200g Greek yoghurt
- 1.5 teaspoon lemon juice
- 7 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 red chillies, sliced on the diagonal into 3mm rounds
- 5g dill leaves
- 5g basil leaves
- 5g tarragon leaves (though I had to do without tarragon as this is not easily found in Hong Kong)
1) Preheat oven to 250 degrees celsius.
2) Place aubergine rounds into a large bowl and mix with 60ml of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper.
3) Lay out on roasting tin lined with parchment paper. Roast until golden-brown and completely soft – about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
4) While aubergines are roasting, make the sauce. Place the black garlic cloves in a small food processor with 1/3 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons of oil, 2 tablespoons of yoghurt and the lemon juice. Blitz for a minute to form a rough paste and then transfer to a medium bowl. Mix through the rest of the yogurt and keep in the fridge until needed.
5) Heat the remaining oil in a small saucepan on high heat. Add the garlic and chilli slices, reduce the heat to medium and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the garlic is golden-brown and the chilli is crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic and chilli on to a kitchen paper-lined plate.
6) Arrange the aubergine slices, overlapping, on a platter. Spoon the yoghurt sauce on top, sprinkle over the chilli and garlic and finish with the herbs.