Posted in Product Reviews

Product Review: Hungarian Garlic in a Tube

There are several very good specialty food shops in Ottawa’s Byward Market, two of which specialize heavily in eastern European food products. While shopping in one of these during my most recent visit to the capital, I came across this garlic paste in a tube from Hungary. I was actually there to purchase tomato puree in a tube (which I found), but I saw this as well and grabbed some to bring home with me…

I am not entirely sure how the ‘Fokhagymakrem’ translates but it is pretty clear that the tube contains a garlic puree. The back of the tube uses the English words ‘Garlic Sauce’ but the ingredient list just indicates garlic, salt, oil, and some preservatives, so this is not a prepared ‘sauce’ in the usual sense of the word… that is to say, with other flavorings being added.

Anyway, when you open the tube, the pungent aroma of garlic is very apparent. When tasted by itself, it does having something of the sharp, sulfurous pungency of freshly minced garlic, but it also has a sweet, slightly cooked taste of roasted garlic at the same time. The other thing, which is immediately apparent, is that there is a LOT of salt added. This may be necessary for preservation purposes but it will really impact how the paste can be used and cooks must be alive to adjusting for the saltiness anywhere that it is added.

I actually like this, saltiness aside, as much as many jarred garlic purees. Jarred products will, of course, oxidize over time and I would say that buying it in the tube will allow you to keep it longer. It doesn’t appear that Amazon Canada carries it, but you can purchase it through Amazon in the US. Mind you, at $13.00 American, it will end up running you about 5 times what I paid for it in Ottawa…

Posted in Recipes

Garlic Oil

Having a jar of home-made garlic infused oil on hand is almost a must in my kitchen. You can use just a bit of the garlic in recipes that call for it (and it is so much better than the commercial varieties of chopped garlic), or you can also take only the oil for stir-frying, or adding to salad dressings, etc. I personally find using a little of both is great for the base of marinades and the like.

Making some for yourself is not difficult at all, but you do need to be a little careful as improper procedures can result in potentially harmful spoilage. Both salt and refrigeration are required if you wish to keep the preparation for any longer than a few days and, after years of doing things this way, I can happily say that I have never had any problems… Continue reading “Garlic Oil”

Posted in Recipes

Sweet Garlic Ribs

Although I enjoy experiencing all sorts of different foods from that varied cuisines of China, I also enjoy the western variety of ‘Chinese’ food from time to time and I have to confess to a certain weakness for the ubiquitous ‘combo’ specialty known as ‘Honey Garlic Ribs’. In truth, sugar, rather than honey, is used in just about every restaurant offering you are likely to encounter but that is actually fine by me as I have tried made with real honey on a number of occasions and wasn’t all that keen on the result.

Garlic ribs have to be pretty bad before I won’t eat them, but I am least fond of those cooked in copious amounts of sauce and braised for so long that, not only is the meat falling from the bone, but it has lost all of it’s chewy texture and flavor. This particular post will feature a version that is closely derived from a popular Chinese preparation in which fresh ribs are braised with rock sugar and fairly small amounts  of either water or stock to which soy sauce is added. My twist on the traditional kind uses regular white sugar, ribs that are previously browned, and just a little so Continue reading “Sweet Garlic Ribs”

Posted in Recipes, Spicery

Spice Blend: Chili Garlic Ginger Paste

Chili, Ginger and garlic, are a trio that come together in all sorts of dishes and, in Indian cookery especially, many cooks pre-make their own pastes from the ingredients and keep it on hand as a convenient time-saver. It is tremendously versatile, being used as-is or as the base for more complex Masalas, and it keeps very well indeed. Most recipes you come across suggest that it will keep anywhere from a week to a month (or longer frozen, of course) but, if a little salt (or sometimes vinegar) is added, it will last for ages. I actually have some in my fridge right now that is pushing six or eight months in age and, although the color has faded just a little it still tastes great. Still, the original fresh taste of the chili has diminished a bit and I thought it time that I made a new batch and share the process with my readers… Continue reading “Spice Blend: Chili Garlic Ginger Paste”

Posted in General

Experiment: Clams with White Wine and Basil

I have three bags of the Mirabel Brand Frozen Clams I featured in a recent ‘Foodstuffs’ post and I thought I would use a couple to make a nice light meal for me and the wife. The first time I used this product, which was only a few weeks before I started writing this blog, I steamed a bag of the clams in a rich liquor made up of soy, ginger, garlic, sugar and rice wine, along with a small bunch of fresh basil. For this experiment, I wanted to use Basil again (as I still have some which needs to be used up) and I thought I might try something a little more delicate using white wine…  Continue reading “Experiment: Clams with White Wine and Basil”

Posted in Product Reviews

Foodstuff: Lee Kum Kee Brand – Chili Garlic Sauce

Lee Kum Kee is a producer and worldwide distributor of many Asian cooking products. I have seen quite a few rather snotty comments about LKK products on the Internet and this seems to stem from the fact that they have become so ubiquitous. It is rather as though, being commonplace, people no longer regard them as being as ‘special’ as less common equivalents. This however, is an unfortunate example of food snobbery and does the company a bit of an injustice, in my opinion. There is no doubt that the entire product line is a sometimes hit or miss as far as quality goes – some items are great, others less so – but I have generally found them to be pretty good on the whole. Their Chili Garlic sauce, while not the best of their entire product line, is still a very versatile and useful addition to anybody’s food cupboard…  Continue reading “Foodstuff: Lee Kum Kee Brand – Chili Garlic Sauce”

Posted in General

Experiment: Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Sauce

Roasting red peppers gives them a lovely sweetness and, when stripped of skin, sliced, and marinated in olive oil, they make a delicious Italian Antipasto. Pureed, either alone or with other ingredients, roasted peppers can also make a wonderful and versatile sauce whose uses are limited only by the imagination…  Continue reading “Experiment: Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Sauce”