Black Garlic Adds A Twist to Barbecue Sauce

Ribs slathered with black garlic barbecue sauce.
Ribs slathered with black garlic barbecue sauce.

What’s sweet, tangy, full of umami, and looks like mole but isn’t?

“Black Garlic Barbecue Sauce.”

Best yet, it requires no cooking, just whizzing everything in a blender before using.

This fabulous recipe is from “Preserved Condiments” (Hardie Grant, 2023), of which I received a review copy.

It’s part of a new series of books on food preservation by Darra Goldstein, founding editor of Gastronomica and winner of the 2020 “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the International Association of Culinary Professionals; Cortney Burns, no stranger to anyone in the Bay Area for co-founding Bar Tartine in San Francisco; and Richard Martin, a media executive and lifestyle editor.

This compact book contains 25 recipes for creative and versatile condiments that are sure to add a spark to a bevy of dishes. Learn how to make the Yemini sauce known as “Zhug” to accent salads and seafood; “Red Plum Hoisin Sauce” sure to elevate any simple stir-fry; “Honey Mustard” that’s more complex than store-bought; and “Bumper Crop Ketchup” that may replace Heinz as your go-to.

Goldstein, Burns, and Martin actually provide a recipe to make your own black garlic, an ingredient prevalent in Korean, Japanese, and Thai cooking. But you’ll need a dehydrator, slow cooker or rice cooker. And you’ll also have to keep the appliance running for about 3 weeks until enzymes have turned the garlic heads soft, shiny, and black.

For those of us — ahem, me — who don’t want to expend that much time, the authors give you permission to use store-bought black garlic, which is the route I went.

Store-bought black garlic cloves.

From there, it’s just a matter of adding those cloves to a blender with a little raw garlic, plus rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, grapeseed oil, olive oil, olive oil, a touch of honey, and salt and pepper. Puree everything until nicely blended. That’s it. There’s no simmering it down or adding a ton more seasoning. It is good to go.

This is not a sauce reeking of raw garlic or burning with sharpness. Instead, the black garlic, with its raisin-y, molasses-like flavor, combines with the fruity, tangy vinegars, and the complex sweetness of honey and brown sugar, to create a tantalizing barbecue sauce that’s at once a little familiar but also a little novel.

The recipe is easily halved, if you don’t want to make a full pint of the sauce. But it’s so savory delicious on pork ribs and roast chicken, and so many other things, that you just might want to make a full batch.

This sauce could not be easier or quicker to make.
This sauce could not be easier or quicker to make.

Black Garlic Barbecue Sauce

(Makes about 1 pint)

8 ounces black garlic cloves, homemade or store-bought

1 ounce raw garlic, cloves peeled

1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 1/4 teaspoons grapeseed oil

3 1/4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 1/4 teaspoons honey

2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a blender, combine the black garlic, raw garlic, rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, grapeseed oil, olive oil, honey, salt, and black pepper. Puree until smooth. If not using immediately, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 months.

Serving Suggestions: Slather on pork or beef ribs, before and after cooking. Use to coat grilled brassicas. Mix with chopped green onions and a bit of sesame oil for a dipping sauce.

From “Preserved Condiments” by Darra Goldstein, Cortney Burns, and Richard Martin

Another Recipe Highlighting Black Garlic: Portobella Mushroom & Celery Salad with Black Garlic Crumbs

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  • Carroll McNeill

    That sauce sounds intriguing, Carolyn. Any tips on where one might source sore-bought black garlic around here? Don’t think I have ever seen it, but then, I have not ever been looking for it!

  • Hi Carroll: This time around, because I was already ordering fresh seafood from Four Star Seafood, I added black garlic to my delivery. That San Francisco-based company has a wealth of gourmet pantry ingredients, in addition to impeccable fresh seafood. I’ve also bought black garlic from Draeger’s markets on the Peninsula. And a quick Google search just showed that apparently World Market and some Safeway stores also carry it. Hope that helps. Happy cooking!

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