If you are not a big garlic fan, you’ll probably raise your eyebrows at this next line: Take a cup of raw garlic and… What do you think we need this much garlic for? Soup, salad, candy? No, no and absolutely not — today we are making a garlic sauce. A Lebanese speciality called toum, although many online recipes call it egg-free mayo. That’s probably because the word “mayo” makes everything sound better!
But what is it? For the brave among us, it is a rather daring spread, tempting enough to make us devour a whole baguette in one go. For the more emotionless gourmets, toum is simply a vegan alternative to mayonnaise. And for those who don’t like garlic at all, it’s probably received as an aggressive sinus clearer. Seriously. But we still hope that everyone will love this dip as much as it should be loved. Why? Because it goes great with everything and on everything: smeared on toast, combined with meat marinades, mixed in salads and with any dish that requires a good kick of garlic.
Unlike many flavourful sauces, this one is made from just 5 simple ingredients! Garlic, of course, being the most difficult part of the equation (mostly because the effort required to peel it). But the good news is that you can purchase peeled garlic. If they are not in stock, too bad — give in to your fate, put on your favourite music and try to get into the mood for the meditative peeling process.
Then just throw your full cup of garlic (about 130-150g) with a little salt (1-2 teaspoons) and 4 tablespoons / ¼ cup of lemon juice into a food processor. Puree everything in short intervals until the mixture looks like a thick yoghurt.
Then, just like with mayonnaise, we have to form an emulsion in two phases. This requires a little oil, actually a lot of oil, 600 ml / 3 cups, to be precise. Pour it little by little into the running mixer. After half a cup of oil has been added, add 1 tablespoon of water (emulsions require both oil and water). Then continue to add oil and water alternately until the last drop is in the mixer. If all goes well, you’ll be left with a nice amount of thick, creamy and delicious toum. Now all you have to do is pour it into a container and do a taste check (of course)! The paste can be used as a spread on bread, as a dip for chips or raw vegetables, with another dip like hummus or baba ganoush, in minestrone or tomato cream. Be as creative as you’d like — there are no limits to your imagination!
A small note: There is also a good old-fashioned method of making toum. For those who despise the technology of modern times, we recommend the use of mortar and pestle. If your mortar is not big enough to do it all at once, you can simply reduce the amount of ingredients. Work garlic and salt into a paste, then add some oil, then a few drops of lemon juice and then oil again. A little muscle work and bang! Your toum dip is ready.