Saturday, May 05, 2007

Lebanese Garlic Sauce

Some good friends of ours are Lebanese. I find the Lebanese cooking, not surprisingly, very similar to Turkish.  One thing we both seem to love is lots of garlic!

Here's a great recipe from Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: A Delicious Alternative for Lifelong Health by Nancy Harmon Jenkins -- a fabulous cookbook!

This garlic sauce, toum bi zeit or garlic with oil, is a Lebanese version of aioli minus the eggs. Zahle, a town on the Damascus Road at the edge of the great central Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, was once famous for the quality of its grilled chcken. Travelers en route to Damascus or to the impressive Roman ruins at Baalbek always scheduled a stop at a roadside restaurant in Zahle for grilled or roasted chicken served with toum bi zeit. This is also a critical ingredient in my favorite Beirut street food, a humble chicken sandwich made on small loaves of French bread and glorified with a thick smear of toum bi zeit. It is as delicious with grilled, poached, or roasted fish as it is with chicken.

This is for people who truly adore garlic.

  • 6 garlic cloves, coarsely choppd
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1-inch slice of counry-style bread (whole-grain), crusts removed
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Directions: Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic with the salt until you have a very smooth paste. Tear the bread into chunks and place them in a bowl. Cover with warm water, then squeeze the bread as dry as you can. Add the bread to the garlic, a little at a time, and continue pounding to get a smooth paste. Now, using the pestle, stir in the olive oil, 1 tablespoon after another, and then the boiling water, 1 tablespoon after another. Stir in the lemon juice. You should have a smooth, thick paste. Serve in a bowl to accompany chicken, fish, or steamed vegetables. Makes 1/2 cup, enough for 8 servings

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