Farmers markets can be hubs of culinary discovery. They surround us with tastes from our locality and from much further afield. My taste buds are frequently sent on mouthwatering adventures, from the sweet exotic flavour of the papaya fruit to the more savoury flavours of the salty succulent samphire. This week we are delving deep into the dark side of cooking as we take a look at black garlic and tofu.
What is Black Garlic?
Many people believe that garlic is turned black through caramelisation or fermentation but this is incorrect. Fermentation requires microbial action and caramelisation requires pyrolysis (the use of heat to separate chemical composition). The process that occurs in the case of black garlic is known as the “Maillard Reaction”. It involves a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars.
Fresh bulbs of white garlic are aged under controlled levels of heat and humidity over the course of a month until they have become black. This process alters the flavour of the garlic bringing it from its savoury beginnings to something a lot sweeter, milder and sticky to the touch. Perhaps most importantly it wont leave you with pungent garlic breath.
Black garlic can have many uses in your kitchen. It can be spread on bread, turned into sauce, tossed in a soup or mixed into a marinade. Today however, we are going to blend it with some dark soy sauce and maple syrup to create a sweet coating for crispy tofu cubes.
Crispy Tofu with Black Garlic
What’s black, white and red all over? Well aside from a newspaper, it’s this delicious quick and easy recipe! I promise it will taste better than the Irish Times.
1 block of tofu
6 cloves of black garlic
3 tbsp peanut oil (vegetable, avocado or chilli oil all work great too!)
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 red pepper
bunch of chives
Drain the tofu and chop up into bite size cubes.
Slice the red pepper into strips and set aside.
Place the black garlic, maple syrup, soy sauce and peanut oil into a blender and whiz up until it is a smooth liquid.
Heat some peanut oil in a wok before throwing in the tofu, turning it frequently until all pieces are a crisp golden brown.
Remove the tofu and set it aside.
Pour the sweet black garlic mixture into the wok until it is sizzling hot.
Toss the tofu back into the wok along with the red peppers and stir fry until the tofu is coated in our mixture.