This recipe was recently published on the Guardian as part of The 10 Best Garlic Recipes. It was a great honor for me to have my recipe included!
Pickled garlic (maneul jangajji) is a staple side dish in Korea. It's one of my father's favorite dishes. Jeju Island, where my parents are from, is well known for its abundance of quality garlic. We used to get the freshest garlic shipped from our relatives in Jeju -- sometimes green garlic and other times mature garlic. Either way, my parents always pickled some of them. The garlic cloves are first soaked in a vinegar brine for a few days and then pickled in a soy brine. Through this two-step process, the garlic loses much of its pungent bite and becomes slightly sweet and tangy. It's important to use fresh garlic for pickling. Serve with rice or as an accompaniment to any main dish. The garlic infused soy brine can be used as a dipping or seasoning sauce.
1 pound fresh garlic (about 8 – 9 whole heads)
For the vinegar brine:
2/3 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon salt (kosher or sea salt)
1 and 1/3 cups water
For the soy brine:
2/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 and 1/3 cups water
1-quart jar with a lid (The photo above shows two batches.)
Separate the garlic cloves from the bulbs. Soak in hot water for 30 minutes or longer. Soaking the garlic helps the skins come off easily. Peel and remove the root ends with a small knife. Rinse and drain. Add to the jar.
Stir the vinegar brine ingredients together until the salt is dissolved. Pour over the garlic cloves. The liquid should fully cover the garlic cloves. Let stand at room temperature for 5 - 7 days.
Bring the soy brine ingredients to a boil, and gently boil for 5 minutes over medium heat. Allow to cool completely. Drain the vinegar brine from the jar. Pour the cooled soy brine over the garlic cloves. Make sure all the garlic cloves are fully covered. Close tightly with a lid, and let stand at room temperature for 2 weeks. The garlic can be eaten at this point, but it will taste better as it matures.
Refrigerate after opening. The garlic cloves will keep for a few months.