This Lebanese Garlic Sauce (Toum) is creamy and light. Made with garlic, oil, lemon juice and salt. It goes especially well with grilled meat. Vegan and gluten free.
One of the great successes of the Lebanese diaspora is the proliferation of yummy Lebanese cuisine all over the world. People in Australia, the US, the UK, and many places far from the busy streets of Beirut enjoy the types of food people have been loving in Lebanon for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
One awesome condiment is this homemade Lebanese toum, or garlic sauce. You’ve probably seen it served in Lebanese restaurants, a snowy white mixture of garlic, salt, lemon, and oil. It’s commonly served with marinated, grilled meat (usually chicken), often as part of a platter. In some kebab places, you can even get this delicious sauce on your kebab.
This thick, aromatic sauce spreads easily, which is why it’s so popular to spread over Shish Tawook, grilled chicken, shawarma, or just about any other classic Middle Eastern dish that comes to mind. Using slow emulsion of garlic and oil, you get this flavorsome, healthy sauce that you can use as a side or even as a spread.
Once upon a time, the only way to make toum properly was with mayo or egg whites, but today we’re taking a lower-calorie approach. This diet-friendly, vegan way of preparing garlic sauce will be a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. All you need is oil, lemon juice, salt, and, of course, garlic. Curious? Let’s take a look at how to make this tasty, healthy sauce.
What is Garlic Sauce Made Of?
- Garlic. Of course, garlic sauce contains a reasonable amount of garlic. You want to use the freshest bulbs you can get. If you grow them yourself, that’s awesome! If you’re at the store, test the garlic bulbs for firmness. Firmer bulbs will have the best flavor and consistency. You’ll need about a cup’s worth of unpeeled garlic, and you can freeze any remaining garlic if need be.
- Oil. You can use any oil you like for this recipe, although olive oil will change the garlic sauce’s color and affect its flavor. With a sauce like this, the star of the flavor show is the garlic, not the oil. A more neutral-flavored oil with a light color is best for this recipe. Canola oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil, avocado oil, and grapeseed oil are great for this because they’re low on color, low on flavor, and will lubricate your garlic sauce just the way you want the oil to do. You’ll be using three to four cups of oil.
- Lemon juice is a key supporting role for this Lebanese garlic sauce. It will emulsify the oil and combine with it to prevent the oil (or the lemon juice, for that matter) from overpowering the garlic. This recipe calls for half a cup, but you can increase or decrease that amount according to your flavor preference. In this recipe, the lemon juice is a binding agent, so you’re best to keep it in.
- Salt really helps here. In addition to enhancing the flavor of your dip, it actually helps grind and grate your garlic, adding traction to the garlic’s natural level of wetness. The trick to a lot of restaurant-quality food is the addition of salt and acid to enhance flavor, and this recipe is no exception. Use a pinch of salt to begin with, but feel free to season your garlic sauce according to taste.
Tips For Homemade Garlic Sauce
- If your garlic has sprouted, with a little green shoot coming out the top of your bulb, remove it. Although this is not strictly necessary, it will color your sauce and make it more bitter. The green bit is older and less savory than the white flesh, so your sauce will be much better without it.
- If you prefer a milder garlic taste, soak your garlic in ice water for a couple of minutes before making the sauce. This extracts some of the chemicals in garlic that cause it to have such a potent taste. Be sure to dry your garlic thoroughly before cooking if you follow this step to avoid having an overly watery sauce.
- Alternate lemon juice with oil when combining your ingredients. The garlic sauce can become too heavy if you add the lemon juice right at the end. Rather, as soon as your mixture is initially emulsified, add some lemon juice, alternating as you go, to ensure a smooth, well-combined mixture.
- Avoid using a blender if you can. The mixture won’t emulsify the right way, plus it’s harder to slowly drizzle in your oil.
What To Eat With Garlic Sauce
Like many sides and sauces, the only limit to this dish is your imagination.
Typically, most people enjoy this toum with grilled meats like chicken or lamb. You can also enjoy it with fish and chips, pasta, or even with a salad. It works great as a dip, particularly if you’re dipping in some pita bread. It’s a pretty good base for a garlicky salad dressing, too, if that’s what you’re into.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does Toum last?
It will keep for three to four months in your fridge in an airtight container. The strength of the garlic taste will fade with time, but we’re sure you’ll love eating this delicious sauce so much it will be long gone by then.
What if the mixture breaks and goes liquidy?
To prevent this, alternate your oil and lemon juice, and don’t add the oil too quickly or the lemon juice too late. If the mixture fails to get fluffy, it is probably failing to properly emulsify.
If this happens, you can pound a couple of boiled potatoes in the food processor before adding the blended potatoes to your sauce. This will help to emulsify your sauce. However, if you follow this tip, your sauce will only keep in the fridge for a week. Be sure to eat it all up before then!
Recipes with Garlic
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