This is a condiment for garlic lovers and sensualists only!—a glossy, gem-like heap of individual garlic cloves, turned creamy and mahogany brown by a rich stewing sauce. It was inspired by tales of a dish eaten by a friend in the home of a princely Mongolian living in Taiwan.
With your fingers, carefully pull apart the heads of garlic, separating the individual cloves from the rooty base. Remove most of the papery, white outer peel, leaving intact and unbroken the thicker, rose-hued skin which encases each clove. Do not use any cloves that are soft, bruised, or half-peeled.
Combine the soy, wine, and stock in a Chinese sand pot or a small, heavy pot that will hold the garlic snugly. Bring the liquids to a steaming, near-simmer over low heat, then add the cloves, and stir to combine. Stew the mixture 5–10 minutes, scatter in the sugar, and stir to dissolve. Cover the pot, check after several minutes, and adjust the heat to maintain a steamy, near-simmer with few or no bubbles. Cover and stew the garlic 3½ hours. Lift the lid occasionally to check that the liquids are not boiling, and at the same time swirl the pot to coat the cloves with sauce.
When done, remove the lid partway and let the cloves sit for 2 or more hours before eating, swirling the pot occasionally to distribute the sauce.
Serve the cloves tepid or at room temperature, in the sand pot or in a small bowl to show off their rich color, or in individual dip dishes alongside each plate. Just before serving, spoon on a bit of sauce.
To eat the garlic, crush a clove lightly against the roof of your mouth. Let the creamy pulp dissolve on your tongue, then discard the peel.
Cool, the garlic may be refrigerated for a week or more in an airtight glass jar. Rotate the jar occasionally to distribute the sauce. Leftover sauce is excellent on cold noodles, or as a garlic-tinged accompaniment for meats or dumplings.
© 1982 Barbara Tropp estate. All rights reserved.