About a month ago, I had the flu and was good for nothing except lying on the couch, coughing and groaning. Because I was down for the count, activity-wise, Phoebe embarked on a weekend of miscellaneous preserving and fermentation projects to keep herself amused, including this salty treat. We dug out a few cloves tonight and threw them in a stir-fry and the results were well worth the wait! Best of all, this is a project that requires very little effort from you: just pack the garlic cloves and miso in a jar, stash them in your fridge and fuhgetaboutit for a month, then retrieve a few and feel all righteous and Martha Stewart.
If you're new to Japanese cooking, both mirin and miso can be found in natural-foods stores, well-stocked supermarkets and Asian groceries. The garlic cloves will get mellow and take on a magical saltiness, perfect for perking up salad dressings, sauces, kebabs, stir-fries and rice dishes. You can basically use them anywhere you'd want regular garlic, but they are saltier and less stinky. They're fantastic sauteed with a little broccoli, and if you're the type to eat whole garlic cloves when you're getting sick, nibble on one of these straight without having horrendous garlic breath! Perhaps if we'd had these handy a month ago, I could have warded off the flu...
1 head garlic
1 cup miso (we used barley miso, but if you've got something else on hand, go for it)
3-4 tablespoons mirin
Separate garlic cloves and peel. Toss in some boiling water for just a minute, then drain and pat dry with a clean towel.
In a separate bowl, combine miso and mirin. Spoon a small amount of miso-mirin mixture into a clean 12-ounce jar, add a few garlic cloves, and cover with miso-mirin mixture. Repeat until all garlic cloves have been used and finish with a final layer of miso-mirin mixture. Screw on the lid and store in the refrigerator. You can eat these after 5-6 days if you're OK with a strong garlic flavor, but they're best if you wait a month or so for the garlic to absorb the flavor of the miso.