"A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift."

Laurie Colwin

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Turning and Two-minute Toum



We've all wasted food, but let me tell you, you know nothing about wasting food until you've been in a professional cookery class on Turned Potato Day.

For those of you who are too young to remember Nouvelle Cuisine or spent the 80s trying to master beurre blanc, turned vegetables are vegetables – usually roots and tubers – that are "turned" into five- or seven-sided barrel shapes with a turning knife (or ordinary paring knife if you're a Turning Genius).  It is not something that is relevant any more (when was the last time you saw a turned vegetable?) or something that you can learn in a few hours when you've also got another six precision cuts to learn, but still, it's in the curriculum, so we give it a go.


I show the students a video.  Then I demonstrate.  Once.  Twice.  Three times.  These kids try.  And fail.  Fail so spectacularly.  They fear cutting towards their thumbs, they fear the long continuous cut, they fear gripping the veg.  One potato looks like Headless Yoda.  One student thinks the pile of trimmings she's got is the turned potato.  I send them to get more potatoes.  The pile of potato trimmings – not peel, actual potato flesh – grows and grows.

While they try and fail, I chop up the potato trimmings and throw them into a pot for potato soup.  While I chop, I remember when I learned to turn veg.  I'd already had the obligatory lesson on turning vegetables but the turning moment, so to speak, was during a week's work experience at Mietta's in 1993, when Mietta was still alive and her restaurant was one of Melbourne's flagships.  Mietta's had a traditional French kitchen brigade (read: arrogant, tough, and properly sexist towards women in the kitchen) and a traditional French menu.  No vegetable was ever served in its original form.  Spuds were sliced thickly and then cut into rounds with a scone cutter.  Perfect baby turnips were shaved.  And carrots were turned.  So my real lesson on turning veg happened when the sous chef pointed at a 10kg bag of carrots and said, "Turn those!"  By the tenth carrot, my turning was pretty damned perfect.  (And I suffered.  That amount of turning meant that I ended up with microscopic cuts all over my thumbs from the motion of stopping the turning knife.  Not a problem, until the sous chef got me to shell 10kg of Moreton Bay bugs immediately afterwards.  Ever had an infection on your thumbs?  Not nice.)

But I digress.  I hate waste.  I use up the potato trimmings for a soup that isn't altogether a success, and while I'm putting it in the coolroom, I notice the leftover falafel from a barbeque we catered a few days ago.  They won't see another day, the students prefer the leftover sausages for their lunch, so I decide to take them home for dinner.

They're pretty good falafels, but because they were made to not offend teenage palates, they are on the bland side.  So I decide to make some Lebanese garlic sauce to go with them.


Toum, toom, or zait b'toum is the Holy Grail for garlic lovers.  It's what aioli should be but isn't since it's been discovered and reinvented for non-Spanish palates.  It is garlic extreme – there's not even a drop of olive oil to detract from the garlic flavour – and in my house, I have to stop people pouncing on it with a spoon.

For many years, I relied on my Lebanese friend Lily for it, because every time I made it, it would curdle, to the point where even though my children would still eat it, they would call it Garlic Fail.  Until the fateful day when I found Fouad's recipe and I was able to turn out an entire canister full of Garlic Win.  The family rejoiced and grabbed spoons.

Fouad's recipe is foolproof, and ideal for when you need a large amount of toum – I'll keep on using it for the rest of my life – but despite the food processor, it takes considerable care and time.  It is the only thing I make in the food processor that actually heats up the motor.  And Fouad has since posted a quicker and easier way to make toum for smaller quantities, but after a recent article on mayonnaise in Serious Eats, I suspected - sorry, Fouad! - that I could do better.

I did.  Last night's toum took two minutes flat with the stick blender - including the time it took to gather ingredients and peel garlic.  And it was full of win.  Not just garlicky, but white, perfectly fluffy and of such enviable texture that I could have cut it with a knife.  The leftover falafels went from being falafels to Those Little Round Things We Can Put Garlic Sauce on.  No waste.

  
TWO-MINUTE TOUM
No joke – this toum will take you two minutes flat, if that.  You're after a light, fluffy texture, and this recipe will give you that without any effort whatsoever.  No streaming oil in, no stress about how the emulsion will happen.  Just put the stick in and watch the magic happen.  The technique is easy, but if you're nervous, check out the Serious Eats video.  

(Makes 1 cup approx.)

Ingredients:
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp. salt
1 egg white
1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup (250ml) neutral oil (not grapeseed)

What you do:
1.  Put the garlic and salt into the canister of your stick blender (immersion blender, stab mixer – whatever).  Stab a few times to process the garlic to a paste.  Remove stick blender, pour in remaining ingredients, and allow to settle for about 15 seconds.
2.  Put stick blender back into canister, resting it on the very bottom, and switch on.  Mixture will begin to emulsify from the bottom up.  When it's 2/3 emulsified, slowly begin lifting out the stick blender.  By the time it reaches the surface, all of the mixture will be completely emulsified and fluffy. 

Yumbo McGillicutty! 

70 comments:

  1. Amazing!! I just made this and it worked!!! I did not think that it would, but it did! So easy too!! Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

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  2. Hey - so glad it did! And I understand: after all we know about emulsions, it's hard to believe that it'll work, but it does.

    Thanks for the feedback, and now that you've made it, try not to put garlic sauce on EVERY SINGLE THING!

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  3. Hello again. I'm the same person who posted the first comment about this recipe. So, I tried it again today but with olive oil instead of vegetable oil (which I used last time). It worked again!! Twice! I made a batch for myself and then one for my parents. All in under ten minutes! It is delicious.

    The only minor differences that I observed are that the olive oil Toum is yellowish in color and it is not as thick as the Toum made with vegetable oil. But I love olive oil and this is a heavenly homemade treat :)

    I can't believe how much time I spent trying to make Toum using the "blender method" and adding SLOWLY the oil and lemon juice....only for it to fail in the end anyway.

    Thanks again for sharing. You are amazing!!

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  4. You are welcome, and that is awesome! Extra-virgin olive oil will give things like this a greenish tinge, which isn't a problem, but it can also turn a little bitter with this method, so I'm glad it worked out for you. And if it was EVOO, it should solidify further when you refrigerate it.

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  5. took me literally seconds to do it!!!! after all these years of trying, i finally manged, in just a few seconds!!!

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  6. Ahhh another satisfied customer! I am so glad it worked for you.

    I can totally relate: I tried for years, tried everything, to no avail, then when I finally managed it, it took ages and it made a bucketful! This way, you can just make it as you need - no fuss.

    Thank you for the feedback, and good luck in your cooking adventures!

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  7. Hello. It's me again, the one who made the olive oil toum. I would like to know how long can we really expect to keep this in the fridge? How long after the preparation date will it still be safe enough/ fresh enough to consume if always kept refrigerated? I am reading that some people keep it for only a few days, while some will keep it for three weeks. I want to know, because I gave a jar to my parents and unlike myself, they will not finish it in a few days...Thank you once again :)

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  8. A few weeks is the norm, but to be on the safe side, I'd say two weeks without any problem. Ordinary toum (without eggwhite) will keep longer, but even with the egg white it is still a relatively stable foodstuff if refrigerated. It isn't like homemade mayonnaise, because what leads to spoilage in that is the egg yolk.

    That said, it is easy to just put toum in everything and use it super-fast! I even like to add a dollop to homemade soups and stews before serving. :)

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  9. Hello its me again with the short comment and 'another happy customer' :)

    Im not sure what s going on but i renectly lost my capability of making toum...
    Im doing everything as written, using colza oil, but 2 times out of 3 it doesnt work for me, it stays liquid whatever i do... Any guess why that could be? The garlic cloves are bigger than normal but i dont think its the problem.... :( anything to do with the egg being cold or room temperature? Thanks in advance

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  10. Hi again, and I'm sorry you're having trouble with it! But guess what? It's happened to me too a couple of times. Both times were when the egg whites weren't as fresh as they should be.

    I'm not sure if you've ever had super-fresh eggs, but if you have, you may have noticed that very fresh eggwhites are very, very gelatinous and clump around the egg yolk. As they get older, they become runnier. And the runnier they get, the less whipping-up and emulsifying power they have. The solution is simple: use two eggwhites! The extra eggwhite is undetectable and ensures that your toum thickens up nicely.

    And in fact, an extra eggwhite can salvage a failed toum, so if you still have it, don't throw it away! Put a fresh eggwhite into the (clean) stick blender canister, add your failed toum, and give it a few good stabs with the blender. It should come together in just a few seconds.

    Good luck, and let me know how you go!

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  11. You're recipe is amazing! I have made it using this method more than 10 times and it has always worked! Thanks.

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  12. Hello thnx for the fresh egg tipp, it worked!!! I was so unhappy that i lost my toum making capabilities for weeks...! ;)

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  13. I married a Syrian and he's spoken for YEARS about this 'magic garlic sauce' he had back home. He finally pointed me to a recipe doing it 'the long way' and after about 12 cups of canola oil and peeling garlic till it was coming out of my pores, I finally found your recipe! Now, finally, I have a happy husband am not wasting time trying to make 5 cups of toum at a time (and failing at that!!!). THANK YOU! Made it for the second time tonight and although a little strong (might need to aim for 8 SMALLER cloves or 6 bigger cloves), it was perfect!

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  14. Ah, Tanya, I fully understand the desire (and sometimes need!) to cook something that will bring a taste of home for someone you love. Glad I could help, and thanks for the feedback.

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  15. This recipe is so good. I made it a little less garlicky and did not use the egg white (I only had old eggs around, LOL). It turned out perfect. No problem using it quickly, my husband wanted to put it on toast.

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    1. Fantastic! Thanks for the feedback! Raw eggs can be a problem for some people.

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  16. Thank you made it for a friend she just loves and handed her the print out as well lol

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  17. The recipe I received from a Lebanese relative years ago (which I lost before I had a chance to try it) called for addition of mashed potato. I'm sure it did not call for egg white. Have you ever heard of potato being used as a thickening agent? There was a restaurant in Beirut named "Maroush" or something close to that back in the late '60s where they served grilled chicken with Toum. I can taste it to this day:) I'm anxious to try your recipe, but have a problem with raw egg whites.

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    Replies
    1. I sure have, but only to salvage a curdled toum, or one that's "fallen flat", rather than as an essential ingredient. The Greek garlic dip, skordalia, is made with potatoes and garlic, but the quantities of potato are large, so if you want to try skordalia as the base recipe for your toum, remember to only use a small potato.

      Egg white is what Lebanese restaurants here in Australia use as "insurance" when making their toum, but you can still make it without the egg white. Just follow the recipe as above. It should work, but if it should fail, add that mashed potato!

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  18. hey Assalam alaikum!! Jazakallah for ds beautiful recipe. I tried it today buht it wasn't exactly how its suppose to b I.guess. mine looked cuddled n d oil on top. I was short on oil so I added butter as well as d lil oil.

    Do u think ds was d problem or is thereon.order we hv to put d ingredients while grinding after v hv groups d garlic???? Also I hv a regular grinder!!!

    pls help me rectify. can I add a small boiled potato to.thicken ??

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    Replies
    1. Oh, dear. I'm sorry it curdled. Although it's normal to have a (very thin) layer of oil on top, it should definitely not look curdled. And it shouldn't have butter added! :D

      I'm not sure what you mean by a "regular grinder". Is it like a food processor? If it is, then the technique will be quite different. You'll need a full cup of garlic cloves, a lot of salt (a heaped tablespoon), and about 1 litre oil. Grind the garlic with the salt, and add the oil VERY slowly, drop by drop, while the food processor is running, as if making mayonnaise. You can add the oil a little bit faster (a thin trickle) when it starts to get thick, and lemon juice at the end.

      If you want to salvage your curdled toum, yes, you can thicken it with a boiled potato. Put the potato in the food processor, turn it on, and add your curdled toum 1 tsp at a time.

      Good luck!

      Delete
  19. I cudnt believe my eyes wen I saw the tasty-yummyyy Garlic sauce in my blender... thanx soo much. But it had a little strong taste, was it because I used 8-10 big cloves of garlic or the reason was 1 tsp salt?

    N 1 cup oil is 250 ml. isn't it ?

    Thanx again :)

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad it worked for you!

      Toum is meant to be fairly strong, but if you found it too strong, I'd suggest it was more to do with the 8-10 cloves garlic than the salt. The salt is absolutely necessary - not to make it salty, but to help the emulsion and balance the garlic flavour.

      And yes indeed, that is a metric cup, 250ml. I'll edit the recipe so this is clear. Thanks!

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    2. Thanx so much for the immediate reply :)
      Next time I'll follow all your recipes as per the quantity mentioned :):):)
      Looking forward for more easy n delicious recipes.
      take care!

      - Umm-e-Abed from Dubai

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  20. I've attempted making this twice using other recipes I found on the internet. Both times, they were very thin and never thickened up. I thought it was the egg white I was using, adding oil too fast... Now I found your recipe that says not to use grapeseed oil. Why is that? I actually used grape seed oil for the other recipes. I definitely lol'd when I saw that you said not to use it. Maybe third time's the charm? I will try regular canola oil this time I think. I only have a regular blender (not stick blender) do you think it will work? I really want to make it correctly!

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    1. Hi, and sorry it's taken so long to reply.

      Although I always have grapeseed oil on hand, it's useless for toum and mayo. The fault is its low viscosity. That is, how runny it is. It simply does not have the body to mount up into an emulsion. Canola will work fine.

      As will the blender! But you will have to do it slightly differently. You can't just drop everything in. Get the garlic going in the blender with the salt and lemon juice. When that's a paste, add the eggwhite. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin steady stream. No need to do drop by drop, but don't glug in huge amounts of oil, either. Good luck, and let me know how you go!

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    2. Hi. Vibey! Greetings from Brazil!

      I tried your recipe last night... it had everything to go wrong: i used grapeseed oil (only i had available at home at the hour) and an old egg white (and the egg was cold too)... but no, it's worked OK!

      I just make a little adjustment: in the first step, i put the garlic, salt AND lemon juice AND water into the canister and "mixed" all of it with my stick blender... this way, the garlic turn into a paste more quickly and easily.
      The only problem that i had was with the color... cause the grapeseed oil is more green.

      But the flavor and the fluffiness was ok!

      Thanks for the recipe!
      Sorry about my English... isn't my mother language. :)

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    3. That's great, Rafael! And so is your English. Thanks for sharing!

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  21. hey salam ,

    M d one wd d query of cuddled Toum disaster ;-) however I.managed to.fix it wd d potato.

    Coming to my grinder I.hv d basic mixer grinder before food processors came into existence ......yup m.still ancient :-P

    In this case pls tell me d quantity of garlic n does d egg hv to b.on.room temperature??? I Js need a cup full since v r a family of Js 3 :-)

    Awaiting ua reply jazakallah in advance !!

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    Replies
    1. Not sure how to do it with a grinder, but a mortar and pestle works well. Use same quantity of everything, but no egg white. Hope this helps!

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  22. excellent it worked first go thank you for the recipe ill be eating it with everything untill its all gone lol then ill make some more turned out perfect thanks for sharing :)

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  23. Hello! I m sorry but it didn't work for me... I m so sad! I tried 5 or 6 times and nothing happend...it didn't emulsified..evry time it's like a soup.. :( I tried everything! Fouad's method with the thermomix, this method, with the egg white, without the egg white NOTHING! Please can u help me? what do I do wrong??? I put all the write amounts and i do everything u say... I want so much to make this sauce... (i tried once in Cairo and from then..I dream about it..) :(((
    thamks in advance!
    Aisha

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  24. Hi Aisha, and I'm so sorry you're having problems. In my years of trying and failing to make toum, I've found three things: first, you have to have enough garlic cloves for the machine. If using a food processor, you need a cup of peeled cloves of garlic; for the stab mixer, you need 6-10. Second, you MUST use salt. Salt is very, very important to the emulsifying process, and without it - or reducing it - you won't get the sauce. Finally (and if you've followed the recipes exactly as Fouad and I have written it), your egg whites must be VERY fresh. They have to be very gelatinous and clump around the yolk when you crack the egg. If they are runny egg whites, the sauce won't come together.

    Good luck, and let me know how you get on!

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    Replies
    1. Oh, and one final thing: don't use grapeseed oil!

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    2. I finally made it!!!!!
      I tried to do it with the thermomix but I failed so many times..and then I said...one more try and stop! So, I decided to make it with the stick blender like u..and after 6 heads of garlic and 2 kilos of oil in my rubbish with the thermomix way...I finally made it and it was soooo easy! :)
      After I started playing and I made also the alioli sauce which is exactly the same but the differnce is that they use the whole egg like the mayonese. Then I made the toum sauce which I used only the egg white.. The difference in taste is that the alioli is more fluid and tastes like mayo with garlic and the toum is more thick and fluffy. personally I like more the toum sause..But if u want to try something different try it, it's also for garlic lovers.. Thanks again for the great tips! Without ur page and tips I wouldn't have make it.. Greetings from beautiful Greece! :)

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    3. Congratulations, Aisha! I'm so glad it finally worked for you!

      10 out of 10 marks for perseverance. :)

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  25. Thank you so much for ur reply...
    Ok,
    1) one is the oil..I use corn oil..is that ok?

    2) second I must use fresh egg white.
    I have a question...
    Should the egg (and all the ingredients) to be in room temperature or it doesn't matter??? cause a friend that makes mayo told me that all the ingredients must be in a room temperature otherwise it doesn't emulsify... and I always use cold egg and lemon juice..
    3) I have to use 1table spoon salt.. (oops I use 1tea spoon)..

    I hope I can do it...
    if I do it..I will worship you!
    thanks in advance.. :)

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    Replies
    1. My pleasure, Aisha.

      Corn oil is fine. The temperature of the egg isn't important when making toum, just when beating eggs in order for them to trap air, like when making meringue (and for future reference, egg whites beat up better at room temperature, egg yolks beat up better when cold). If your egg whites aren't as fresh as they should be, use two.

      1 teaspoon salt for this amount of garlic and oil is fine (I think 1 tbsp would be too much). This is a metric teaspoon - 5ml.

      Hope this helps!

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  26. I ll try it tonight and I will return again, winner i hope... :)
    tahnks!!

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  27. Awesome...first time venturing into Lebanese stuff...until today never heard of toum and got a perfect Lebanese aioli at the first go!!!

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  28. Wow! I'm so glad I found this. The local Lebanese joint wouldn't share the recipe...and the others I tried had too much "bite" or were the wrong texture. This was perfect...although maybe I need a new mixer...it took a little longer to emusify.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad it worked for you. But even if your mixer is old and it took a little longer, it's still quicker than the traditional way - or even the food processor way! You'll never look back now.

      Thanks for the feedback. :)

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  29. Worked great, its a little thick for my taste though, what tip would you have to get it a little less thick? More water or less/no egg white?

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad it worked! To continue to ensure success, I wouldn't mess around with the proportions of the recipe. Instead, once it's done, I would whisk in iced water until it's the consistency you want. Good luck!

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  30. Hi and thanks for the recipe.
    I use Colza oil and the oil taste ended up too strong too my taste.
    What is the best oil to use for toum please?
    Also the raw garlic left a very pungeant aftertaste.
    Is that normal? Maybe it is due to the garlic I used.
    Anyway... I ll give it an other try!!!
    Thanks again and looking forward to you advices!
    Adrien

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    Replies
    1. Colza oil is OK, but I prefer to use sunflower. This is meant to be a pungent sauce, but if you want it milder, use 4-6 cloves garlic. Good luck!

      Delete
  31. Hello, thanks so very much for taking the time to reinvent the "how's" of this recipe. I have been searching for it for years and found it on YouTube, only to find I needed a food processor to make it myself. I did invest in a food processor and successfully made it 3 times without the egg white or water. It was great and I was so happy but then I found that it wouldn't turn out anymore. I had soupy mess after soupy mess. My food processor has been sitting unused for months. I was afraid to mess with it anymore. Then I found your recipe and it turned out great in no time at all. I've owned an immersion blender for years now. I honestly never thought of using it for this recipe. Thanks again for sharing, much appreciated :)

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  32. Do the results for the sunflower oil, as far as taste & consistency, turn out the same as with canola?

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    Replies
    1. Consistency, yes. But sunflower oil has a rounder flavour to me.

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  33. I just wanted to say this recipe is awesome! So far my favorite to go to toum recipe! Complete success and even though you said no grapeseed oil, it was all I had on hand, except for extra virgin olive oil, and it turned out wonderfully...thick and fluffy.

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  34. It's so wonderful that I have recommended your recipe to all my friends! They also can't wait to try it! I have been eating it with falafel pita sandwiches, even with my breakfast (thank goodness my husband is traveling...now I can eat it all day long :-). Absolutely wonderful!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your post! It brought a huge grin to my face! You remind me of my stepdaughter, who takes garlic sauce sandwiches to school. :D

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  35. Tried it and it worked beautifully - so yummy, thanks for the recipe :)

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  36. Hi there--recipe sounds awesome. I'm looking to make a toum without egg whites. Would you process work in the same manner if i just skipped the egg ingredient?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Shauna,

      Traditional toum uses no eggwhites, but... this isn't the traditional technique, so I can't guarantee that it'll work. HOWEVER. I say: give it a go! Make sure the correct amount of salt is in there (it's vital in the emulsification process), and if it doesn't work out, you'll have a batch of garlicky oil you can use in lots of ways. (You could also add that eggwhite you don't want to use and it will come together.)

      Delete
  37. I can't believe how good this turned out. Living next to Dearborn, MI, I've tried out the toum at plenty of restaurants and this one is just as good and so easy to make. I used sunflower oil and it tastes amazing. Thank you!!! I am sending this recipe to friends who have to leave the state and Middle Eastern food is harder to come by.

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  38. I Love this!! I've been buying this from a restaurant that we eat at!! OMG It's so easy to make and just like the restaurants!! Thanks!!

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    Replies
    1. Glad you're not reliant on your restaurant any more! :D

      Delete
  39. So IO tried this twice now and it worked perfectly both times, I then shared the receipe with a friend and here is her response: "sweet jesus that looks dangerous... and awesome!" I don't think there is a better response to this than that.

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU !

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  40. OMG awesome. Perfect. It worked out great, except, way tooooo salty. So I will only use 1/4 tsp. I'm not sure if anyone else had that complaint. But it was inedible with that salt content. Unfortunately must throw it out. But still ate enough with my grilled chicken.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the feedback but hey - don't throw it out! Add some Greek yoghurt and turn it into a garlicky dip or sauce.

      Not sure whether you've had toum before, but this is about the saltiness in mine and my Lebanese friends' toum, and in restaurants. Go ahead and reduce salt if you want, but on no account omit the egg white if you do: the sauce needs one or the other to emulsify.

      Good luck!

      Delete
  41. Hello,

    I tried your toum recipe yesterday. I tried many others in the past and failed so I wasn't confident this would work either but it did! I couldn't believe my eyes were seeing white toum build up at the bottom.

    While I was able to make toum, I wasn't quite happy with the taste or the consistency. The taste was strong and salty (I used 5 cloves only). The consistency was pretty thick and sticky. We love toum with hot french fries, and usually you are able to wipe toum away like ketchup with fries but since the toum was so sticky i had to break off little clumps. Any idea what I could do to improve the taste and consistency so its soft like regular toum?

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    Replies
    1. I've always had toum like this so I think that what's regular depends on which part of the Lebanon your family is from! :D

      But OK - noted. To get a silkier texture, omit egg white (this means leave the salt as is - you'll need it for the emulsion) and increase the amount of oil. Start with 1 1/4 cups oil and see how you get on.

      Let me know how it goes!

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So! Whaddya reckon?