You may not have known the proper name for this tasty sauce before reading this blog post, but I can guarantee that you have had this before if you eat a lot of Lebanese or Middle Eastern foods like shawarma or falafel. Toum is a traditional creamy (and dreamy) Lebanese garlic sauce that is often added to grilled meats or is served as a dip.
In Lebanese, “toum” or “toom” translates directly to mean “garlic”. This sauce is aptly named as there is LOTS of garlic in this recipe- 30 cloves! Yeah, you read that right- 30 cloves of raw, fresh, mouth-tingling, gut-friendly garlic. Luckily, the garlic flavour is complimented by lots of clean tasting canola oil, tart lemon juice and some salt and mellows out the longer it sits in the fridge. This sauce has the same consistency as a homemade mayonnaise or aioli and is made in the exact same process of emulsifying the ingredients together very slowly to form a thick, stable, and creamy sauce.
Now it took me a few tries and a few thorough lessons in patience to get the proper texture and consistency to the Toum. The first time I made the sauce, I added the oil way too fast and the sauce completely split and would not come back together no matter how long I blended. The second time, I made sure to add the oil slowly to ensure that the sauce would emulsify properly, but my little food processor had been working so hard that the motor got hot and transferred the heat to the Toum, causing it to split again. Ugh. Two bottles of oil and a pound of garlic later, I finally got it right. I took my time adding the oil slowly to the food processor and would stop for a bit after the addition of each cup of oil to ensure the mixture stayed at room temperature and didn’t overheat. Finally, a rewarding and tasty success!
On this Toum learning curve, I also learned to make the sauce a few days ahead of when you actually plan to use it. When the sauce is freshly made, the garlic oils are still very strong and are quite pungent. It will definitely knock you back a bit if you eat even the smallest amount. Also, try to make sure that the garlic is really fresh. Fresher garlic will have a much more pleasing garlic taste than garlic that has been sitting around for a while. Older garlic will taste stronger but will also be very bitter (especially if the garlic begins to grow green sprouts), which is not what you want at all in this recipe. When you are looking to buy garlic in the store or market, make sure that the skin of the garlic is bright and white/purple and tight, there are no green sprouts, and that the cloves are all firm when squeezed. These are all good signs of fresh and tasty garlic!
Fresh garlic has tight skins, just like these cloves above!
With summer on the way, I can see this sauce being used throughout the entire season. Grilling up some kebabs? You need Toum. Looking to jazz up a crudite platter? Use Toum. Making grilled pizzas? Spread the crust with Toum. Giving a twist to a summer sandwich? Toum! See? This sauce is great on EVERYTHING!
What else do you think Toum would be good on? Leave me some comments below!
For the full recipe, click here!