The addictive, punchy garlic emulsion is really simple to make with just four ingredients.
Camellia Ling Aebischer

21 Aug 2020 - 10:35 AM  UPDATED 28 Aug 2020 - 1:50 PM

If you’ve had toum, you are probably already obsessed with it. If you haven’t, it’s a Levantine garlic sauce, made from an emulsion of garlic cloves, salt, lemon juice and oil is often served alongside grilled chicken like shish tawook.

It’s just as delicious as a dip for crunchy veg or flatbread and makes a great sub-in as a dairy-free garlic mayo. The recipe is similar to traditional Mediterranean aioli, in which oil is emulsified with the garlic clove and not egg, like western aioli.

The recipe for toum is simple, and so is the process, but it’s one of those things that can mess up easily. While filming a clip on this for our SBS Food Instagram Story the toum split on me twice using a food processor so I made the switch to a stick mixer which worked first go. Many recipes online use a food processor though, so don’t be afraid.

If it does split, you have two options to save it, either make a new base of garlic puree and work the split portion back in, or remove about 3/4 of the split sauce, blend in an eggwhite to the ¼ remaining and slowly re-introduce the split sauce.

How to make toum

You’ll need 2 heads of garlic, 1 tsp of salt, the juice of 1 lemon and 2 cups of vegetable (neutral) oil. You can use olive oil, and it is preferred by some, but it will have a much stronger flavour so best choose a light variety.

Put the peeled garlic and salt in a food processor, blender, or at the bottom of a large jar if using a stick blender. Pulse/puree scraping down the sides until you have a sticky garlic paste. This is key for achieving the emulsion.

Add a little of the lemon juice if you need to loosen up the puree and help it along. Then, while still blending, very slowly drizzle in about half the oil until you get a smooth, firm emulsion. Alternate the remaining oil with lemon juice until it’s all gone and you have a firm sauce, the consistency of thick mayonnaise.

Keep it in the fridge for up to a week.

The recipe makes a lot, so if you'd like less use a mini food processor or stick mix and halve it.

By the way, the raw garlic may burn your mouth a little – this dip is a garlic lover’s paradise. To soften the intensity, you can sub out some of the lemon juice for a pinch of citric acid diluted in water. Blending it in and resting the toum overnight will help tone down garlic intensity a little and will act as a preservative. Sub out all the lemon juice for a good pinch of citric acid mixed with about 45 ml of water.

Love the story? Follow the author here: Instagram @cammienoodle

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