Diary of a Foodie

Mongolian Stewed Garlic

Diary of a Foodie: Season Two: Baja: The New Provence

Yields1 cup richly seasoned garlic, enough to serve 8 to 16 as a condiment to highlight other foods.
  • Active Time:15 minutes
  • Start to Finish:5 3/4 hours
February 2008
  • 4-5 very large, rock-hard heads of garlic, with huge cloves and a rose-hued skin, or enough smaller heads to yield 45-50 fat, firm cloves (do not use “elephant” garlic)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons black soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or quality, dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup light, unsalted chicken stock or water
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely crushed golden rock sugar

Preparing the Garlic:

  • Remove most of the papery, white outer peel, leaving intact and unbroken the thicker skin that encases each clove.

Stewing the Cloves:

  • Combine the soy, wine, and stock in a Chinese sand pot or a small, heavy pot that will hold the garlic snugly. Bring the liquids to a steaming near-simmer over low heat, then add the cloves and stir to combine. Stew the mixture 5 to 10 minutes, scatter in the sugar, and stir to dissolve. Cover the pot, check after several minutes, and adjust the heat to maintain a steaming near-simmer with few or no bubbles. Cover and stew the garlic 3.5 hours. Lift the lid occasionally to check that the liquids are not boiling, and at the same time swirl the pot to coat the cloves with sauce.
  • When done, remove the lid partway and let the cloves sit for 2 or more hours before eating, swirling the pot occasionally to distribute the sauce.
  • Serve the cloves tepid or at room temperature, in the sand pot or in a small bowl to show off their rich color, or in individual dip dishes alongside each plate. Just before serving, spoon on a bit of sauce.
  • To eat the garlic, crush a clove lightly against the roof of your mouth. Let the creamy pulp dissolve on your tongue, then discard the peel.
  • The garlic may be refrigerated for a week or more in an airtight glass jar. Rotate the jar occasionally to distribute the sauce. Leftover sauce is excellent on cold noodles, or as a garlic-tinged accompaniment for meats or dumplings.
Subscribe to Gourmet