If I was stranded on an island and could only have one type of sauce, I would probably opt for a life supply of freshly made Toum! Seriously, if you like garlic, you are going to love this recipe. The first time I tasted it was at a Lebanese restaurant in France. The waiter brought a complimentary small dish with what seemed to be some kind of white garlicky mayonnaise. It was light, whipped to perfection so much so that I was sure that it contained egg white. I asked the waiter if it did and he assured me that it was only garlic that had been whipped for a long time. He called it Toum which turns out to be the Lebanese word for garlic. Mystery solved!
There are so many reasons this paste is so good. You know when you eat something with a lot of garlic (like pesto) how it leaves a strong taste in your mouth and usually requires you to brush your teeth right after? The most amazing thing about Toum is that you can eat it by the spoonful and yet have no strong after taste. I love garlic but I use it mostly in cooked food. Raw garlic is not for everyone! Some people who have developed an intolerance to it can experience indigestion, heartburn and gas. Toum on the other hand is gentle on the digestive tract!
Health benefits of garlic
In addition to warding evil spirits, this member of the onion (Allium) family, is a natural antibiotic and anti-oxidant making it a formidable immune system booster. Its sulfur compounds are the key to all the health benefits it is known for.
When taken on a regular basis, garlic can:
– Help relieve chronic bronchitis
– Reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol.
– Prevent Alzheimer and dementia and cancer due to its anti-oxidant power.
– Gently help the body to detox common chemicals compounds found in the water, air and household products (pesticides, radiations, chemicals, etc.)
The origins of Toum
It is said to have originated in the Levant region (Eastern countries bordering the Mediterranean sea). It may have been invented in Syria, then was brought to Spain (at the time called the Iberian Peninsula) and to the South of France by the Phoenicians.
In the old days, Toum was prepared using a mortar and pestle and a lot of elbow grease! It could take 30-40 minutes to get the fluffy consistency you are looking for! Talk about a work of love! And you can’t take a break in the middle of it either! Maybe they took turns! Now with the help of a food processor, you can make it faster and make sure you succeed emulsifying the paste.
Best food processor to use
In my experience you need a small or medium food processor because a large one will not work. The blades will spin and not process the garlic unless you are doubling or tripping the recipe. You also need to make sure that your processor has a small hole on top to slowly drizzle the oil and lemon juice while the lid is on and can be on without holding a button down. Most food processors do so you should be ok. I happen to have a small one that for some reason doesn’t have a hole on top and can only pulse! It was a bargain, I now know why!
How to prepare the garlic
First, it is best to use young firm garlic cloves and remove the skin.
Second, if you have ever cut a clove of garlic in half you will have notice a thin sprout in the middle, it is white if the clove is young and green if it aged. You must remove it or it will leave a bitter taste. So don’t skip this step.
This being said, I had a bag of garlic cloves in the garage and I noticed that some were starting to sprout. This is what happens when you shop at Costco and end up with huge quantities and can only use a little at a time! I am just saying! So I had to do something with all this garlic that was going South and making toum is the best way to take advantage of an abundance of garlic!
What is the best oil to use
A neutral oil like avocado, sunflower, vegetable oil is best but you can also use a light olive oil. Not extra virgin because it is too strong and will compete with the lemon and garlic.
This fancy word refers to a magical process where water and oil are mixed and transformed into a cream with the help of an emulsifying agent. It is the base of mayonnaise, aioli, most face and body lotions… So in fact by making this amazing garlic paste you will discover and master the wonderful world of emulsification!
Tips to prevent the garlic paste from breaking
Mastering a technique often means things not always turning out the way you expected at first, and as a result, learn the important nuances in doing things in the proper sequence and ratios. No worry, this won’t require complicated math but you will want to make sure of the following:
1. The sequence and the ratio of liquid to oil are the keys to obtaining a perfectly whipped garlic paste. If you add the lemon juice before the oil or add them too quickly, you risk breaking the sauce and turning it back to liquid.
2. Make sure that there is no moisture in the food processor, spatula or the garlic cloves before you start using it.
3. When it is done and you are ready to put it into a jar, do not seal it immediately. Place a sheet of paper towel on top until the paste has cooled down and all condensation has been absorbed and only then seal the jar and refrigerate. This should take less than an hour. Just touch the jar and you will know.
Toum will keep 3-4 months refrigerated in a sealed jar. It won’t go bad but could loose some of its potency over time.
As a dip, a spread for sandwiches, as a topping for baked potatoes, roasted vegetables and for salad dressing, etc.
Lebanese Whipped Garlic Paste
- food processor
- 1 cup garlic cloves peeled
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp coarse sea salt
- 2-3 cups neutral oil (avocado, sunflower, etc.)
- Peel the garlic cloves and remove their sprout.
- Juice 1/4 cup of lemon into a small container.
- Pour 3 cups of neutral oil into a container with a pouring spout.
- In a food processor, add all the garlic cloves and the sea salt.
- Pulse until the garlic starts to bind together.
- Keep the motor running from this point onward.
- Slowly drip 1/2 cup of olive oil through the hole in the lid, it will begin to emulsify.
- Now slowly add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice until it is incorporated.
- Slowly drizzle 1/2 cup of olive oil, wait a few seconds.
- Continue alternating a tablespoon of lemon juice then the olive oil.
- This will take between 8-10 minutes.
How to store
- Fill a clean and dry glass jar with the whipped garlic but do not seal the cover.
- Place a piece of paper towel as a cover until the paste cools down.
- Seal and refrigerate.