With the flavors of the Middle East finding such a warm welcome here, it makes sense to dig further into that food culture for menu inspiration. What sits just over the horizon, beyond the adoption of harissa, s’chug and dukkah? Toum, a Lebanese condiment made with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt, emulsified for an airy, soft texture, holds all the markings of a potential hit on U.S. menus.
Dubbed a Lebanese aïoli, “toum” translates to “garlic” in Arabic. This vegan sauce carries an aggressive, garlicky flavor—perfect for a number of modern menu items, like roasted or grilled meats and veg-centric dishes. At Suraya, a Lebanese cafe in Philadelphia, a grilled ribeye is paired with Middle Eastern dips and sauces: baba ghanouj, hummus and toum.
Toum also plays nicely on modern American menus, which often pluck global flavors and ingredients for bold touches on familiar dishes. Rose and Fern, a neighborhood restaurant in Traverse City, Mich., combines toum with a more familiar sauce in its Morning Missile, a breakfast burrito with maple sausage, egg, black beans, crispy potato sticks, feta, pickled red onion, and toum chile sauce.
Empellón Al Pastor, an inventive Mexican-inspired spot in New York, serves a Fried Chicken Sandwich with toum, cucumber and dill on a potato roll, moving an American classic into an unexpected, but craveable profile. With nearly 80 percent of consumers saying they either love or like garlic, according to Datassential, toum is poised to be another popular global condiment in today’s culinary arsenal.