Tuesday, June 17, 2008

reruns no. 2 — lebanese garlic (mayo) sauce

in following with the theme of revisited recipes, this one is for the popular and much sought after sauce, or condiment, which goes by its arabic name thoum. thoum is really just the word for garlic however. considering the amount of 'hits' my blog gets for it regularly, since the time i originally posted that recipe, i figured it is time to post the other version. the first recipe, posted over 2 years ago, is eggless. it also uses one whole head of garlic! this one includes the yolk of one egg and few cloves of garlic.

before i give the recipe, i will say that some people don't know or 'get it' that the authentic version of this sauce is made without eggs and quite a bit lot of garlic. in essence, it is a mixture of garlic mashed with salt to yield a purée into which oil is slowly added. it is then finished with lemon juice. making it this way has its faults in so much as it is extremely difficult to do, even for those who are experienced. it is an unstable emulsion which is very tempermental and requires the correct measures and perfect touch of hand, whether made traditionally in a large mortar or by modern methods (blender). the eggless version i posted in 2006, was thickened, as many people do it, with a piece of boiled potato, making a garlic sauce which does not separate and reduces the acridity, or harshness, of the garlic. adding either the boiled potato or a piece of moistened bread to it makes it stable (nothing worse than having all your work separate and fall apart before your eyes!).

* * * * *

the other way to make thoum stable is to use an egg yolk, an ingredient which makes a thick unctuous product. this creamy off-white coloured garlic sauce is also the one, i believe, the majority of people are looking for and the one which they are accustomed to finding in (fast food type) lebanese restaurants.

the best way to prepare this condiment is in a blender or with a hand held immersion blender. if you choose the latter route, make sure you have someone helping you to hold the vessel/cup in which you blend the ingredients, as it becomes difficult, even next to impossible, to keep it from wobbling around while blending and trying to add the oil all at the same time.

the most important thing when making this is NOT to rush. if you're one of those people who are impatient, then you are better off getting someone else to make it or just to buy it. while making this sauce is pretty straightforward, it still requires attention to detail and a steady hand.

the sauce is good for 1 to 2 weeks if well refrigerated. only use mild olive oil or a blend of vegetable and olive oil. remember this recipe is more like a mayonnaise (and therefore highly caloric) while
the other has a different texture. that one, i'd say, is more like a sauce than a mayonnaise. it also uses less oil and is more pungent.

lebanese garlic mayonnaise sauce

makes approx. 1 cup


3 large cloves garlic + 1 smaller one
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp (no more than that!) water*
1/4 tsp salt

1 c (8 oz) regular olive oil or blend of vegetable and olive oil

white vinegar mixed with water to equal 3 tbsp OR,

juice of 1/2 small lemon

*the water is there to help blend things easily. DO NOT omit it.


have your mise-en-place ready first. you don't have time to run around the kitchen grabbing ingredients.

*i am using an immersion blender here; you can use a regular one. do NOT use a food processor.

place the garlic and egg yolk in the mixing bowl (or tall sided immersion blender jar). if you don't trust your blades are sharp enough, you can use a mortar and pestle to grind the garlic to a fine purée with the salt and then add it to the blender with the egg yolk and continue from that point.

blend it for a minute just to break up the garlic. it will further break down as you progress.

add the salt and the water and mix it for 2 or 3 minutes (pulsing) until is is broken down and blended.

this part is where you need to keep an eye on things. i can't say exactly how long it will take as it depends upon your ingredients and your method.

add the oil now in DROPS and blend in completely after each one, pulsing as you go.

continue to do this until your mixture looks creamy and emulsified. this is the sign of when to add the rest of the oil, slowly in more of a steady stream.

add the oil, in trickles and keep blending as you go. it will take some time, maybe up to 10 minutes. have someone hold the emulsion jug if that is how you're doing it or to slowly pour the oil as you blend and hold on to the jar.

once all the oil is incorporated, it should look like a whitish very thick mayonnaise.

taste it to see if you need more salt. add a tiny bit if necessary.

now add the lemon juice or vinegar and water mixture in a slow stream until it tastes right to you. you may not need it all, so taste test along the way.

refrigerate and use as wanted.



Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Garlic mayo is definitely one of my favorite sauces... Yours looks very tasty!



burekaboy — said...

rosa - LOL, that's why i almost never make it -- i can eat the whole thing by myself! :))

prettybaker said...

mmmmmmmmm - I have never made my own mayo - I think I will give this a try.

burekaboy — said...

אהלן פריטי - זה מתכון ממש פשוט להכין. הוא טעים מאוד גם כן. פה אוכלים אוטו בדרברים כמו סנדוויצ'ים של "שיש טאוק" ותפוחי אדמה צלויים וכול

hope you like it! :))

sara said...

see how small this world is? this is exactly how i make all i oli when not in the mood of working with mortar and pestle!

Jeena said...

Fabulous garlic mayo I could have just done with some on my dinner today, yum!

burekaboy — said...

sari - goes to show you good food travels far & wide! :))

hi jeena - if only it wasn't pure calories! hope you enjoyed your dinner ;)

Yaelian said...

Mmm,that garlic mayo looks great, I will definately try it. Greetings from Finland this time, Bureka Boy...

burekaboy — said...

hey yael :) - i see you're back home. vacation?

the mayo is addictive if you like that sort of thing! :)) you can also add more garlic too it but i find 4 cloves are enough (for me).

thanks for writing; enjoy your stay!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your thoum recipe(s). I adore this stuff and kept meaning to try making it; finally did last night after reading your post. I added slightly more garlic than you advised and it was almost too garlicky for me ( I never thought THAT was possible ). I'll definitely adhere more closely to your recipe next time! Lovely texture and flavor.

burekaboy — said...

hi charlene - you're very welcome. thanks for letting me know how it turned out & that you liked it. it's one of my favourite things even though i'm a sugar addict ;)

sorry that your way turned out a little too garlicky. a little does go a LOOONNNG way which is why i advise trying only about 3 1/2 cloves (of garlic) -- especially the first time around. too much of any flavour is never a good thing.

oh well, you'll just HAVE TO make it again! LOL. enjoy :)

Sketched Soul said...


Yaaaay.. I'm so happy! I finally have hope in getting me some 'thoum'. I usually have to go all the way to Montreal to get some.

Thank you for sharing, I'll definitely be trying this.

You have a very impressive blog!

Take care,

burekaboy — said...

hi farhana - glad you found your way here and can now make it at home yourself whenever you want ... coming to montreal for it is definitely a "shlep" for you -- though i'm sure you spend a lot of time picking up other items here, too! ;) the 'thoum' is actually quite to make as you can see from the posting. hope you enjoy the results.

thanks for your visit and the nice words about my blog. ramadan karim!