The last time I made a dipping sauce using a dairy base was in September last year when I fried some fish fillets based on a recipe that Jamie Oliver did in one of his cooking shows. Since then, it’s been mostly a hurried-up garlicky mayo dip that accompanied our fried fish fillets because we always have mayo in the house but not sour cream or even all-purpose cream. But there was one last box of cream in the kitchen today and I used it to make a dipping sauce for the fried breaded tilapia fillets for dinner.
The trick to a tasty sour cream and garlic dip is to grate the garlic instead of chopping it. Grate it, and grate an onion too, and add all the juices as well. Waste nothing. It might sound like a lot of work for a dip but, believe me, you’ll get a dip that is smooth, no bits of garlic nor onion on your tongue and the juices mixed in will give the dip a deep and wonderful flavor that you’ll never get from commercial dips that come ready made in tubs. For even better control of the balance between saltiness and sourness, make your own sour cream. Use more — or less — lemon, lime or kalamansi juice to suit your taste. No more too salty or too sour or too bland dip.
1 c. of cream
juice of half a lemon or lime or the equivalent amount of kalamansi juice
4 cloves (segments) of garlic
1/3 of a large white onion (cut it crosswise, explanation below)
salt to taste
freshly grated black pepper
a pinch of sugar
1 tsp. of chopped fresh mint
Make the dip:
Pour the cream in a bowl. Pour the lemon, lime or kalamansi juice over it and let stand for about 15 minutes without stirring. The cream will curdle and make it thickish.
Peel the garlic and grate.
For easier handling of the onion on the grater, do not cut off the end of the onion that holds the layers together. Just peel off the skin and hold the onion by the edge to grate it.
Add the grated garlic and onion — and don’t forget to include the juices — to the curdled cream. Season with salt and lots of pepper. Add a pinch of sugar — don’t think that the sugar is unnecessary because the little sugar will create a balance so that none of the individual flavors of the ingredients will overwhelm the others. I don’t know why this is so. I never included sugar in my dip before but, for some reason, after doing so, I realized that the dip was infinitely better. Finally, add the chopped mint and give the dip a final stir.
For best results, chill the dip before use. Keep any unused or leftover dip in a tightly covered container in the fridge. It will keep for a few days.