Laba garlic, also known as Laba garlic sauce or Laba garlic paste, is a popular Chinese condiment made from garlic cloves soaked in vinegar. It’s often served during the Laba Festival, which falls on the eighth day of the twelfth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. Making Laba garlic is a straightforward process. Here’s a basic recipe:
- 1 head of garlic (about 10-12 cloves)
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 14 cup of soy sauce
- 14 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 12 teaspoon of salt (adjust to taste)
- Red chili flakes or fresh red chilies (optional, for heat)
- 1 star anise (optional, for flavor)
- Prepare the Garlic:
- Separate the cloves from the garlic head and peel them. You can either leave the cloves whole or slice them thinly, depending on your preference for texture and presentation.
- Make the Marinade:
- In a saucepan, combine the white vinegar, soy sauce, water, sugar, salt, and star anise (if using). If you want to add some heat to your Laba garlic, you can include red chili flakes or chopped fresh red chilies at this stage. Adjust the amount to your preferred level of spiciness.
- Heat and Dissolve:
- Place the saucepan over low to medium heat and stir the mixture until the sugar and salt completely dissolve. You don’t need to bring it to a boil, just heat it enough to dissolve the ingredients.
- Cool the Marinade:
- Remove the saucepan from heat and let the marinade cool to room temperature.
- Marinate the Garlic:
- Place the peeled garlic cloves in a clean glass jar or container. Make sure it has a tight-sealing lid.
- Pour the Marinade:
- Once the marinade has cooled, pour it over the garlic cloves in the jar. Ensure that the garlic cloves are fully submerged in the liquid.
- Seal and Refrigerate:
- Seal the jar tightly with its lid and place it in the refrigerator. Allow the Laba garlic to marinate for at least a few hours, but it’s even better when left for a day or two to develop its flavors.
- Laba garlic is typically served as a condiment alongside other dishes. You can use it to add a burst of garlicky and tangy flavor to noodles, rice, vegetables, or any meal you like.
- Laba garlic can be stored in the refrigerator for an extended period, and its flavor may become more pronounced over time. Just make sure the garlic cloves remain submerged in the liquid to prevent spoilage.
Laba garlic is known for its pungent, savory, and slightly tangy flavor. It adds a delightful kick to various Chinese dishes and is a traditional component of the Laba congee, a special rice porridge made during the Laba Festival. Enjoy experimenting with this flavorful condiment!