Tuesday, July 24, 2012

sautéed young/green garlic

as i have mentioned previously, green garlic (or young garlic, or spring garlic), is a delicacy in my hometown. i do not recall what time of the year these are abundant in the philippines but i remember it being planted after  rice is harvested because they use rice straw for mulching.  garlic is one of the produce my uncles grow in the farm they inherited from my grandparents, aside from rice and more common vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants.  growing up i would volunteer to help my uncles pluck young garlic in the field behind our house.   why pluck them out? to make more growing space for the "main" garlic, which will be harvested later when it is matured and cured.  {for in-depth information on how they grow garlic in my province go here.}

green garlic looks very similar to green onions.  some would have a bit of bulb, while others would have bigger heads with the individual cloves starting to form. the simplest way to tell the difference between a green onion and a green garlic is the smell. but if that fails look at the stalks.  green onions have tube-like stalks, young garlic stalks are flat open.

i have seen young garlic at the farmer's market and sometimes at whole foods, but they are expensive ($4 for a small bundle) and seldom available.  just for fun i have planted some in early spring in my tiny window box alongside other herbs.  the harvest was scant but it was sufficient to satisfy my craving.  last week, i was pleasantly surprised when i came upon so many of them!  this harvest came from my mother-in-law's boss's backyard.  the generous lady, jen, who grows them, gave me a generous amount to my heart's content. i kept a handful for myself but i shared most of it to my grandma. she believes garlic helps regulate her blood pressure.  she recently stopped taking her blood pressure medicine and has opted to just munch on garlic chips.  if it is sufficient to keep her bp under control i do not know.  however she eats mainly fish and vegetables so i am not all that worried. besides for an 85 year old, she is in good health and can still whip my behind if she needs to :)

anyhow, what to do with green garlic? you can make green garlic soup like molly did,  you can make a tart or pesto like erin did with her garlic scape, or cook it with spaghetti. the recipe that follows however is one that most resembles what my mom used to make.  simple and filling when eaten with rice. 

the recipe goes like this...

cut up some pork and brown it. i used bacon because it is what i had available. if you want it healthier you can just use olive oil.  all you need is a little fat.  instead of pork, you may also use shrimp or tofu.

when bacon is browned remove all but 1 tablespoon of the oil. 

add the tomatoes and sauté until it softens. 
add seasoning to taste- you  may use kosher salt, sea salt, patis (fish sauce), soy sauce, bouillon, chopped up anchovy, or whatever you prefer to use. i added a pinch of cumin to mine although it isn't really necessary. if it's too dry, add a little water. it depends on how soupy you want it.

add the white portion of the young garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.

next add the green part. check for seasoning and adjust as needed.
cook for a couple minutes or until the leaves start to wilt.  do not overcook. 

remove from heat and that's it!

post script: don't worry about it being too garlicky. young garlic is much milder and sweeter than regular garlic. you won't get garlic breath afterwards i promise.

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