We are thrilled to announce our new partnership with Padma Lakshmi! The host of the Emmy-winning Top Chef, writer, and designer started Padma Lakshmi, a social networking site that celebrates our favorite topics, including food adventures, recipes, and party planning. She'll be dishing up goodies for us here on YumSugar monthly! Today, Padma offers her thoughts on the specialty ingredient known as black garlic.

Korean culture, famous for kimchi, has perfected the art of fermentation, patiently coaxing the flavors of everyday food to an entirely new level. Not surprisingly, the origin of black garlic is in Korea. After aging for at least 30 days, it possesses a caramelized, savory richness that has a mouth feel similar to eating a date. Because it’s sweet and mild, it’s hard to believe you’re eating garlic at all.

But it is indeed garlic — definitely less attractive, but with all the best assets intact and an umami sensation to boot. These smooth, smoky fermented cloves are irresistible and easy to eat on their own — minus the lingering, pungent breath.

Related: The 2011 Delicious Food Show, Toronto

I’ve seen it popping up more and more over the past few years in the states, and once again, it’s at the top of many seasonal, must-have ingredient lists for the best restaurants and now even pizza joints. Keep reading to learn how to cook with black garlic.


You can liven up Asian-inspired meals by adding some black garlic, rice vinegar, and ginger or simply spread a clove onto a piece of warm crusty bread. For a savory pasta sauce, try black garlic and brown butter. Add porcini mushrooms, shallots, and a touch of dry white wine, and you will have a beautiful, earthy flavor profile.

The fermentation process is simple and natural, using no preservatives, and the result actually packs an even healthier punch than regular, nonfermented garlic. Black garlic supposedly has twice the amount of antioxidants and vitamin C, so really, what’s not to love?

It’s not always easy to find it on store shelves, but there are many online retailers that sell it for a relatively low price like Black Garlic Inc.

What’s your favorite ugly-yet-delicious food?

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