Sopa De Ajo Negro: Fermented Black Garlic Soup

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(Serves 6)

1 Ancho chile, toasted, seeded and stemmed, and soaked until soft
3 Bulbs black garlic, separated into cloves and peeled,
1/2 cup Olive oil
4 Cloves fresh garlic, peeled, but left whole
1/3 Loaf Bread (5 or 6 oz/165 g), sliced very thinly (bread should be either a few days old or dried in a low oven until half dried out)
1 tsp Mexican oregano, rubbed
4 cups Chicken stock
Sea salt, to taste
4 Eggs
Chile flakes or threads (Korean pepper flakes or threads would be perfect)
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Blend the garlic with the prepared ancho chile and just enough of its soaking water to facilitate blending. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan until hot, but not smoking. Lightly crush the fresh garlic cloves and add them to the oil. Cook over medium heat until the garlic is golden. Remove and discard the garlic and add the bread to the oil. Cook, stirring, until the oil is absorbed into the bread. Add the black garlic ancho paste, the Mexican oregano (which is not oregano – so if you don’t have it, use thyme) the stock and a good pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bread has broken up and thickened the soup. If it’s too thick, add some water. Adjust the salt to taste.

Working quickly, slip the eggs into the soup, keeping them separate (this is why you need a big pan) and being careful not to submerge them. Give the pan a few gentle shakes to settle in the eggs, and poach until the whites are just set and the yolks are still very soft. Serve in four wide bowls, carefully placing an egg in each so that the yolk shows above the soup. Finish with a pinch of chile flakes and a small sprig of cilantro.


Recipe Copyright © 2009, Don Dickson / South China Seas Trading Co. Limited