In A Basic Fried Rice, I mentioned a ‘fried garlic condiment’ I make every few months and use as a condiment / garnish for steamed fish, hot pot, cantonese soups or as a shortcut ingredient in fried rice.
Today I made another batch, and I’ll try to describe how I do it so anyone can replicate the steps. First the garlic – any garlic will do although slightly older/drier ones are better as the skin comes off more easily. For a small pesto-sized jar, use about 6-8 whole bulbs. Split them into individual cloves. Slice off the bottom dry bit, and try to get one side of the skin off while you’re slicing. Put it all into a tupperware with a lid, put some heavy metal music on, and shake the box for about the duration of two songs. This will get most of the skin off. Then take each clove and make sure all the skin is off, – yes you have to do this one by one – and bung it all in a food processor. Blitz it until it’s small pieces – but not mush.
Protip : If you don’t want your hair smelling like garlic for the next week – put on a shower cap at this point.
For frying I use a small non-stick saucepan. Non-stick because garlic is sticky and using a non-stick makes the stirring a little less laborious. The bonus is that my nonstick saucepan is white, and so it makes it easier to tell the colour changes too. Put all the garlic in the pan. Pour enough oil in it to cover the garlic plus a little bit. Start with room temperature oil. Any bland oil will do. It’s not a very high heat process, so even olive oil works – and that was what I used today. Sometimes I use peanut oil.
Put the pan on medium heat. Stir every minute or so. Let it simmer. Play more music. Stir again. Once the colour starts darkening, pay a bit more attention. Turn the flame to low. Once the oil heats up, the garlic burns quite easily and to prevent that, the heat needs to be low and the garlic needs to be watched constantly. If the colour starts changing too fast, turn the flame off, if it then doesn’t darken enough, turn it on low again for a little bit. Do this back-and-forth dance with the heat until you are happy. VERY IMPORTANT NOTE. The garlic will keep cooking even with the flame off. Overcooked garlic is bitter – although very crispy and nice to crunch. How dark to cook it is based on trial and error and practice. You want it golden brown – but not too brown. There is a sweet spot where it’s crispy but not (too) bitter.
Once it’s done, let it cool for a little bit. When cool enough, decant into a jar. If well cooked, it will last a year at room temperature. If undercooked and the garlic still has too much moisture in, it will go off at some point.
After all that was done, I used the layer of oil left in the pan to cook myself a simple stir fried lunch of carrots, chicken & shirataki noodles.