If ever there was a recipe that was greater than the sum of its ingredients, it is this one. This sauce is heaven. Heaven. This sauce is worth the garlic breath. My family and I frequent a Mediterranean restaurant that offers this freely. And, I take advantage. I use it on everything – fish, chicken, eggplant, falafel. At home, I use it on my sandwiches, eggs and samlon. It’s creamy and rich in all the right and healthful ways. I had no idea what was in it. Without knowing more at the time, I swore there was mayo in it. Then, I found out that this sauce is a mayonnaise . Just like mayonnaise, toom sauce is an infusion of garlic and vegetable oil. Just that. Many recipes add potatoes which is not necessary at all if this recipe is done right. This sauce is pungent and has a bite like wasabi. It has a bite that can be reduced with more oil.
It is imperative that directions are closely followed. You have to work with a thin stream of oil. Do not rush it. Ingredients should be at room temperature. Use vegetable oil. Do not substitute olive oil. Work with fresh garlic. You will know if it’s fresh by squeezing the whole bulb and it shouldn’t move that much – the garlic bulbs should be firm and tight. Make sure the lemon juice is free from pulp and seeds. The better the ingredients and attention to detail at the outset, the better the final result will be. Also, there should be NO water at all in your food processor, or spoons or anything. It could break the sauce. Finally, be patient.
Toom Sauce (Lebanese Garlic Sauce)
adapted from Chef Kamal
- 1 cup peeled garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cups vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- In a food processor (completely dry – no water, remember), add the garlic and salt and run it until the garlic is finely minced – about 30 seconds.
- Stop your processor and using a spatula (without any water) scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Run the processor again in 30 second increments, scraping after each time, until the garlic turns pasty. This should be done after 4 times.
- Scrape the bowl finally and then turn on the processor – this time, you won’t be turning it off until the whole process is complete.
- Add 1/2 cup of the oil in a thin stream (cannot stress the thin part of this) until fully incorporated.
- Alternate to add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice in a thin stream until its fully incorporated into the garlic mixture.
- Then, add the oil in 1/2 cup increment following with the tablespoon of lemon juice until everything is used.
- You may notice at this point that the liquid hasn’t come together. If so, it could be that you didn’t use a thin stream and it broke the mixture. If this is the case, run the processor for 5 minutes. If it still doesn’t pull together, turn off the processor, scrape down the mixture and run it again for 5 minutes. It should pull together to some extent. But, if it doesn’t, it’s still usable as a great marinade. This is why I stressed the use of a thin stream.