Finally, some light has been shed on my last week’s existential doubt (at least partially).
After browsing books, blogs and asking here and there, the clarification has arrived from an old post of Bressanini who, already in 2007, was writing about garlic & co. I have so discovered that the stingy aroma of garlic is due to the molecule allicin. Moreover, allicin is not present in garlic as such, but it is produced from the compound alliin through an enzymatic reaction.
Briefly, when we cut the garlic, the enzyme is released from the vegetal cells and reacts with alliin, with consequent production of allicin. Therefore, the more the garlic is finely cut, the more allicin is produced.
Back to last week’s question, boiling the garlic inactivates the enzyme alliinase that becomes uncapable of converting alliin into allicin. Cooked garlic has still a vaguely sulfur taste, but not as intense as in raw, diced garlic.
Now, I am still puzzled about one thing…why Adria’ boils the garlic 3 times, always starting from cold water? I am thinking he wants to inactivate the enzyme just a bit, so that some allicin would still develop. This is just my speculation, of course, but if someone knows more about it, please, feel free to leave a comment :)
And if you got till this point, you deserve the bonus: the recipe of salmorejo (that I personally prefer to gazpacho).
What is salmorejo? It’s a typical Andalusia’s cold soup. It is similar to gazpacho, but made only with tomatoes, oil, bread and garlic. I tasted salmorejo for the first time in Sevilla and, since then, it became the must of the summer along with the Italian pappa al pomodoro. Fun facts: the garlic is not an optional. If you do not like its stingy flavour, boil it as I do, but do not omit garlic from the recipe. Garlic, as well as onions & co, contains emulsifying molecules (the phospholipids of cellular membranes) that avoid the salmorejo separating.
(Doses for 2 persons)
2 large ripe tomatoes
110 g of bread
6 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
salt as needed
Soak the bread in some water, squeeze it and set it aside.
Peel the garlic and boil it for 7 minutes in water. Drain the garlic and set it aside. Of course, if you like the stingy taste of garlic, you can skip this step.
Dice the tomatoes and place them in a blender along with the bread, the garlic, the oil and the salt. Blend the ingredients until you will obtain a smooth sauce. Serve salmorejo cold. This dish is traditionally garnished with slices of hard boiled eggs and cured ham.
Dario Bressanini, blog La Scienza in Cucina
Herve’ This, Pentole e Provette, 214-215, Ed. Gambero Rosso