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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ingredient: Green Garlic

picture of fresh green garlic

This Spring has sprung us quite a bit of rain -alright, quite a bit more than a bit, in fact. The sky has been leaking almost daily for weeks on end. It's perfect soup weather, yes, but I haven't been eating much soup. I steadfastly refuse to surrender to this horrible weather, and I've been doing a lot of sprightly stir-fry in defiance.

One of the ingredients I have been using a lot is green garlic. Have you seen it? It looks like an over-grown scallion, or perhaps a meager leek. It is a fresh shoot of a young garlic plant, before it develops the bulbs that we are familiar with in older garlic. Young garlic has a taste that is unmistakably garlic-ky, but in a milder and gentler way. It turns quite sweet and delicious when cooked, and retains the flavor of garlic without being overpowering.

I adore green garlic. In fact, the very first recipe I posted on Chez Pim -way back before it became a food blog- actually had green garlic as an ingredient. I have been using it a lot in stir fries, and for dinner yesterday I did a variation of the first recipe I posted on this blog, but this time with shrimp, a much more available and easier to deal with than crabs.

picture of shrimp and green garlic stir fry Shrimp stir-fry with green garlic
Goong Pong Gari

300 g. or about 10 oz. shrimps, shell on (but head off)
1/2 onion, sliced into thin rounds
1/2 cup julienne green garlic (cut into about 2" very thin sticks)
1 heaping teaspoon of curry powder
4 tbsp cooking oil (use high smoke point oil, I use grape seed oil)
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp water

1. With a very sharp knife, cut each shrimp in half lengthwise with the shell on. Clean out the veins from the shrimp halves and set the shrimps aside.
2. Heat a fry pan or a wok until hot, add oil and then about a quarter of the julienne green garlic. (This will be used as garnish at the end so you won't need much.) Cook until the sticks just begin to change color. Take them out of the oil immediately. Set aside to rest on a paper towel.
3. Turn the heat to medium then add the shrimps to the pan, laying each one the shell side down. Let the shrimps cook, shell side down only, for 2 minutes or until the shells begin to caramelize. Take the shrimps out of the pan and set aside.
4. Add onion into the pan, cook until translucent, then add the curry powder, the rest of the green garlic, and give everything a quick stir to mix well.
5. Add the shrimps back to the pan, then the fish sauce and the water. Stir vigorously until the shrimps are cooked to the desired doneness. I prefer mine a little on the under-done side, but you are welcome to cook them more. Check the seasoning, add more fish sauce if needed.
6. Transfer into a large plate, garnished with the fried green garlic, and serve with freshly cooked jasmine rice.

P.S. Despite how I feel about soups currently, I concede that green garlic is quite good in them. Might I suggest you try a variety of Vichyssoise, but use green garlic in place of the leeks? My friend Eric said it's mighty tasty.

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