How I hate the smell of garlic coming from someone’s mouth (as well as mine)! Okay, maybe I hate it a little bit less when it’s coming out of my own mouth.
As you probably know, Koreans young and old, really seem to like garlic. We even enjoy eating fresh garlic (especially the male population). We'll often eat it alone with some dipping sauce (gochujang - hot pepper paste, and deonjang - soybean paste) or wrapped with lettuce or cabbage ssam (wrap). Garlic is regarded as one of the energy boosting food among Koreans - especially male energy. I'm not sure, but I don’t think the other Asian cuisines favor garlic that much, even though I can’t speak for all of the other regions of Asia. I know the Chinese use garlic quite a bit, the Japanese doesn’t cook with garlic that much.
Garlic is also well regarded for health, having a high potency of antioxidants, it's also thought to be good for high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure and is also used to prevent certain types of cancer! Well, it sounds like garlic is a cure for all diseases!
Since Koreans are also very health conscious, this is another reason why Koreans like garlic. It seems there's a new food or health or vitamins coming up all the time in the Korean community, and this time, it seems the health obsession is about garlic, but a new kind of garlic.
Starting about two years ago, friends of mine kept talking about black garlic -- garlic that's been fermented through heat. Friends of mine told me that you can make it by heating it on the "warm" setting in a rice cooker for 2 weeks, then letting it rest for another 2 weeks. So, as soon as I heard about it, I had to try it. I put a package of garlic about 2 lb, skin on, in an old rice cooker that I don’t use and put it on the “warm” setting and left it for 2 weeks. The results were not too good. It turned out to be overly dried out and hard. I had to throw away that batch into my compost bin.
The next time, I only left it in the rice cooker for 10 days, and it turned out perfect – dark (almost black), and soft when touched. I let it hang in a cotton bag for about the same duration, then stored the finished garlic in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator.
When you eat it, peel the skin off – it easily comes off. It tastes quite sweet, creamy, savory and soft. The best part is that it doesn't have that sharp garlic stink! Black garlic is also available commercially -- I don’t know if the well known health supplements company uses a similar method to produce this this same method to produce this “black garlic” which sells for a very high price per a bottle of small black pills.
So, now I use a minimum of fresh garlic for cooking, but take black garlic with food everyday. Both my husband and I take 5-6 pieces each of black garlic while we are eating dinner or after finishing the dinner, just in case to prevent having garlic smell in the mouth in the morning. I'm not sure how long this will last, but there are a lot of positives: it really doesn’t smell much of garlic any more, it supposedly has double the antioxidants than the fresh garlic, and it tastes good!
Photo courtesy of flickr user avlxyz