Why do you eat?
Because you are hungry? Because you have a craving?
To Koreans food is medicine. We believe that everything we eat not only satisfies our hunger
but it also affects us in good or bad ways.
Everybody knows that BiBimBap is a rainbow in a bowl. There is a reason why BiBimBap looks the way it does.
I'm sure everyone has heard of how Dark Green Vegetables fight against cancer and heart disease.
Koreans have known this for years and also about other colors of food and how each color relates to your health.

 

Black Garlic

What is Black Garlic?  It was given to the Kings of Korea for immortality.  It is also one of the most commonly used ingredients in Snake Oil medicines out there.  I don’t believe in those cure all drugs but I figure it must be packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients.  It tastes like licorice made out of roasted garlic.  It actually tastes pretty good!  So started my quest to put Black Garlic on my menu.  They sell Black Garlic here and there but it was too expensive.  Besides, I don’t know where the garlic comes from, and like any food product the quality of the ingredient has a large impact on the quality of the final product.  (one of the cardinal rules of running a restaurant)

I love the web.  I instantly found how Black Garlic was made and decided to try it on my own.  Black Garlic is nothing more than garlic that has been cured.  The acid in the garlic reacts with the heat and chemical reaction turns the garlic black.   Zzzzzzzzz.  Sorry to get to technical, the Asian side of me takes over sometimes.

Week 1 - I have an old Rice Cooker that can keep the garlic at the correct temperature for curing (30 to 50 degrees) in the warm setting.  I lined the rice cooker with some egg cartons and places some Ontario Garlic that I purchased from the Food Terminal.  I put the rice cooker in my utility room so that the smell of the garlic does not take over the restaurant. 
Week 3 - Fourteen days later I removed the garlic from the rice cooker and we get garlic that turns chestnut brown outside and the cloves chocolate black.  The cloves are wet and sticky at this point so I left it whole on top of my fridge to dry out.
Week 5 - Two weeks pass again and the smaller garlic can have the outer layer carefully peeled back so that the garlic in intact but now one side of the garlic cloves are exposed to the air.  The larger bulbs had to be left for another two weeks before I handled it.
Week 12 - The cloves are now dry to touch and has a gummy texture.  Chewy but not hard.  I read that Black Garlic reaches it’s maximum potential 3 months after it is made and stays potent for a very long time. 

There is much research going on about Black Garlic.  It has twice the antioxidants as uncured garlic.  It has been measured to increase insulin levels in lab mice.  It seems to have different effects on different people.  They say that it has antibacterial properties but does not harm the good bacteria in the digestive system.  They also say that it helps (not cause) cell regeneration.

O.K. I’m not selling this stuff so I hope you guys don’t think I am making this stuff up but I did give Black Garlic to my favorite Aunt.  She is 80 and it is a sign of respect in the Korean culture to give health products to our elders.  I told her to take 1 clove after each meal.  She liked the taste so she started eating it on a regular bases.  For the last two years she has been complaining of a cough that persists for 30 minutes when she lies down to sleep.  After two weeks of eating Black Garlic the cough disappeared.  After a month of eating Black Garlic, the roots of her hair started getting darker!  I can’t say for sure that all this is due to the Black Garlic but it sure makes working with Black Garlic more fun!

If you are going to buy garlic, try to find a good source.  I try to find Ontario products when I can but I don’t advertise this because during the winter months I can’t always get Ontario products.  Presently I am using California garlic.  It’s not bad but I would rather support local farmers..
Also, buy garlic that does not have layers of cloves but rather sectioned like an orange.  It dries better and is easier to work with. 
I also prefer the smaller garlic.  It tastes better when cured.
Lastly the first garlic harvest  in the spring is well known in Korea for it’s extra nutritional properties.  I can’t wait to find out how it’s going to taste!

 

BLACK FOOD

Good for Kidney and Urinary tract. Eat bland for maximum health benefits. Black Rice, Black Bean, Black Sesame Seed contain antioxidants, antiaging blood pressure regulators, liver functions, eyesight. Black Beans are especially helpful in fighting cancer, high blood pressure and plaque in your blood vessels. Eggplant, Black plumbs, Dark Grapes, Blackberry, Blueberry, Seaweed, Shitake Mushroom, Squid Ink and Watermelon Seed are some other examples of Black Food.

 

GREEN FOOD

Good for liver regeneration, Fatigue, Circulation. Because green is mainly Chlorophyll and is molecularly similar to Hemoglobin, green foods have special value to anything related to the blood.
High in fiber it will help lower cholesterol. Usually high in Calcium for the bone. Avocado and Kiwi are good for the eyes, especially for prevention of Glaucoma. Spinach Celery, Cabbage, Lettuce, Green Bean, Green Tea, Broccoli, Green Plum, Seaweed, Turnip Stem, Zucchini Leaf are some examples of Green Food. Broccoli is known especially to prevent Cancer.

 

 

YELLOW FOOD

Yellow is usually made from Carotene. Beta Carotene is a strong antioxidant. When ingested it will turn into Vitamin A and can be consumed as an alternative source of Vitamin A. Protects the stomach and aids in digestion. Curry especially makes the stomach strong, is a good antioxidant. Grapefruits are good for insulin production and prevents obesity. Carrots and aged zucchini also have antioxidants and are also has antiaging properties. Yellow Kiwi, Sweet Potato, Corn, Banana, Orange, Yellow Plum, Yellow Pepper are some examples of Yellow Foods.

RED FOOD

Same color as blood, makes the blood thin and strengthens the heart and prevents heart disease.
Good for cancer prevention, cellular longevity, diseases related to blood vessels, liver function, hangovers. Also believed to slow down the progression of cancer cells at rate 10x more effective than beta carotine. Tomato, Apple, Strawberry, Red Pepper, Pomegranite, Red Bean and Red Dates are some examples of Red Foods.

 

 

WHITE FOOD

Good for the Lungs, Asthma and Cancer Prevention, antivirus and allergy. Cleansing food that helps with scars and boosts immune system. Mushroom, Korean Radish, Bean Sprout, Cabbage, Onion, Potato, DoRaJi (Bellflower) and Pears are some examples of White foods. Mushrooms are especially good for Cancer Prevention.

 

VIOLET FOOD

Grape Skin and Eggplant skin is good for Heart Disease and circulation.
Believed to block the excretion of toxic chemicals from Cancer cells.
Eggplant skin absorbs fat and will help lower cholestrol and prevent cancer.