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This is the simplest recipe that I’ve ever had the opportunity to prepare. The simple association of garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt which is TOUM, is a Mediterranean’s dream and the result is often almost as white as snow, but not for my reinterpreted version. It’s more intense and darker. But why ?

Even though the Lebanese have created such a perfect 4-ingredient creamy sauce and dip, I will always have a preference for using a light olive oil instead of a neutral oil, of which I only use half as much oil than what is recommended and I rarely add water to any sauce I ever make, replacing that water with more lemon juice, lemon ice cubes in this case ! These are the changes makes it more intense and darker in color.

I’ve made this several times, always resulting in something tasty but the texture can alter itself over time, either releasing too much water by separating into a top layer that is dense, floating on top of a layer of water or, and this is in particularly hot weather, after several weeks in the fridge and after serving it, the oil can start to separate, but this is rarer.

I’ve invented nothing here, I just tested and retested and tried to fix my mistakes.

The first is a slight change of the ingredients to be used. Instead of a neutral oil, I use virgin olive oil or pomace olive oil (the second or third pressing), which is much lighter than extra virgin olive oil and better tasting than any neutral oil. And then, instead of adding ice water to the mixture, to help emulsify it (to correctly merge or combine the watery liquid with the oil), I use only lemon juice, as ice cubes and iced lemon water. 

And of course, to help everything go well, since the mixture heats up while being violently mixed, everything is chilled overnight beforehand (except for the salt) to help with the emulsification. The traditional way is use a mortar and pestle, pounding everything by hand, but it needs to be so large.

And of course, to avoid any problems that may arise, whipping it up can be helpful with an electric whisk and straining it after that, which will also reduce the chances of changes over time since it can sit in the fridge for a long time before being all used up.

It’s really a delight ! There are countries and cultures that really make a difference and a contribution to cuisine. Thank-you … :)

intense «toum» garlic sauce


400 grams or 2 cups


  • 150 grams (1 cup) whole garlic cloves
  • 15 grams (1 tbsp) fine sea salt
  • 120 ml (8 tbsp) lemon juice
  • 340 grams (1 ½ cups) light olive oil (pomace or virgin, not extra virgin)
  • optional : 2,5 grams (½ tsp) sugar (to cut the occasional bitterness)


  • chill all your ingredients beforehand (overnight in the refrigerator) and make ice cubes with half of the lemon juice (4 tbsp for 4 ice cubes)
  • slice the garlic cloves in half and remove the germ along the middle, then mix with the salt and pulse many times in a small food-processor until minced then add 1 tbsp lemon juice and pulse again and add a second tablespoon of lemon juice and keep pulsing until the mixture is creamy (keep scraping down the sides so it gets mixed well)
  • place the 4 lemon juice ice cubes in a small bowl with the remaining 2 tbsp of lemon juice so it can be very cold yet melt a little
  • add the olive oil little by little (1/4 cup in all but add only 1 tbsp at a time) as the food-processor is mixing and then add 1 tbsp of lemon juice and keep repeating (6 times in all) until all the olive oil and lemon juice is used up
  • taste and adjust to your taste and add just a little sugar if it seems bitter (but it will mellow over time) 
  • *note : if the toum sauce is not sufficiently aerated, you can correct this by using an electric whisk and a tall mixing container to whip it up further …
  • place the toum sauce onto a small clean kitchen towel on a sieve and over a bowl, cover and let sit several hours or overnight to ideally eliminate any extra liquid that may separate over time
  • *note : even when the toum sauce seems whipped and frothy and even if the emulsion seems correct, it can release water over time so it’s a good idea to eliminate that little amount beforehand by straining it; after straining the initial weight of 500 grams, the sauce could lose up to 100 grams of water after 12 hours, without losing any lemony flavor …