Black garlic chicken: The fermented cloves add caramelised sweetness to savoury dishes.
The fermented cloves of black garlic add caramelised sweetness to chicken dishes. Photo: Edwina Pickles

What is it?

Fresh garlic that has been aged and fermented until the white cloves turn a glossy jet black. Invented in South Korea in 2004, it's popular with chefs for its instant umami richness. The soft, slightly sticky, cloves taste sweet and savoury, rather like garlicky prunes.

Where is it?

Rich in flavour: Fermented black garlic.
Rich in flavour: Fermented black garlic. Styling and food: Jill Dupleix. Photo: Edwina Pickles

NSW

At The Bathers' Pavilion, chef Cameron Johnston adds black garlic puree to a spectacular dish of soft-shell crab, confit potato, raisins, pickled mustard seeds and nettles. ''I just puree the black garlic and add a dot or two to the plate for its sweet, garlicky flavour,'' he says.

At Manta in Woolloomooloo, chef Daniel Hughes also purees the garlic cloves, before folding them through house-made aioli to serve with fried calamari. ''The taste is unique; people love it,'' he says. At La Grillade in Crows Nest, chef Nathan Jackson's menu reflects at least two food trends in a combination of king prawn croquettes with black garlic aioli. ''The black garlic flavour is very intense and almost sweet, without the harshness of raw garlic,'' says sous chef Stevenson Su.

Victoria

At the new Altair restaurant in Warrandyte, chef Kelvin Shaw serves a black garlic puree with slow-cooked lamb belly and a lavender sauce. “It makes a real point of difference,” he says. “The sweet and savoury flavour seems to get everything else on the plate going.”

Lamb seems a natural companion for the umami richness of black garlic, and Syracuse chef Hugh Sanderson has been known to team the two with a dish of grilled lamb cutlets, crushed peas, miso and black garlic.

At Northcote’s Two by Two, chef Jono Mackie serves whole cloves of black garlic with snapper, pan-fried gnocchi, kohlrabi and Jerusalem artichoke. “The flavour profile is so different to normal garlic,” Mackie says. “You get these really nice balsamic, caramel notes.”

Why do I care?

It's the new black, in adventurous kitchens.

Can I do this at home?

Just puree a few cloves with the roasting juices of lamb or chicken and serve alongside. Also great with scrambled eggs, pasta, pizza and risotto.

Sourcing it

NSW

Available from Tasmanian Black Garlic Co (in season from January 2014), and Gourmet Life, 60 New South Head Road, Darling Point, 9363 0775, tasmanianblackgarlic.com.au

The Bathers' Pavilion, 4 The Esplanade, Balmoral, 9969 5050

Manta, 6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo, 9332 3822

La Grillade, 118 Alexander Street, Crows Nest, 9439 3707

Victoria

Tasmanian Black Garlic Co (inseason from January 2014), Waimea Trading 0411 537 545, specialty greengrocers and markets, tasmanianblackgarlic .com.au

Altair, 152 Yarra Street, Warrandyte, 9844 5548

Syracuse, 23 Bank Place, city, 9670 1777

Two by Two, 235 High Street, Northcote, 9486 5885

Black garlic chicken (pictured above)

1 whole head of black garlic

60g crustless stale bread

4 tbsp milk or white wine

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

1 tsp thyme leaves

1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest

Half a beaten egg

Sea salt and pepper

4 chicken breasts, skin on (if the breasts are skinless, wrap with a slice of prosciutto.)

1 tbsp olive oil

1. Peel the garlic cloves and set aside.

2. Soak the bread in milk for 5 minutes, then squeeze out excess milk. Mix the bread with the parsley, thyme, lemon zest, beaten egg, sea salt and pepper.

3. Place the chicken breasts skin-side down on a board. Working from the middle, butterfly the breasts, cutting horizontally into the thickest side of meat without cutting right through, then open it like a book and flatten slightly. Season well.

4. Arrange the stuffing and the garlic cloves down the middle of each breast, roll tightly into a cylinder and wrap in plastic wrap for an hour or two until required.

5. To serve, heat the oven to 200 degrees. Pan-fry the chicken in olive oil for 5 minutes until golden, then bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Slice, and serve with peas and rocket leaves, and any pan juices.

Serves 4