wok tossed fiery garlic knots

wok tossed fiery garlic knots

I’ve been thinking about this recipe for weeks, but held off from making it until this afternoon. The recipe calls for 10 cloves of garlic, and it’s not a dish you indulge in before meeting people. Today I had a break from activities, and the gray skies overhead had me reaching for a nubby sweater. It also had me craving a deep bowl of garlic knots soaked in spicy marinara sauce–warm, comforting and nostalgic.

Garlic knots have a special place in my heart. I went to high school in the Bronx, and on Castle Hill Ave (where I transferred from the BX22 to the Q44) was this postage stamp sized pizza shop. As I waited for the Queens bound bus to arrive, I often ducked into the shop to get a bag of garlic knots. In the winter months, the shop was a respite from the Siberian-like cold wind that would slap me in the face as I waited for the 44 to arrive.  The smells and warmth coming from the shop were irresistible.

The tiny shop could only hold about 3-4 customers at a time, and you had the choice to eat at a counter the size of a ski or just take your food to go. The generous shop guys would prop open the door during really cold days so we can defrost our noses while waiting outside. My glasses would mist up immediately, but through the steamy haze, I would let my nose guide me to the counter.

Garlic knots almost have a fresh pretzel taste to them–snappy crust with a chewy inside. Nestled in the crooks of the dough are copious amounts of garlic and olive oil. It’s a near perfect snack, with maybe room to improve in the spice department, which is where this recipe could strike a chord with fire seekers out there. Making these today brought me back to the Bronx, and I’ve been longing to venture back to Castle Hill Avenue with the kids one day, but I’m afraid of being heartbroken if a Starbucks has sprung up in its place.

garlic knots in spicy marinara sauce

wok tossed fiery garlic knots

Yield: 4-6 servings


  • 1 pound pizza dough (Trader Joe's Whole Wheat was used here)
  • 10 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 2 tbs marinara sauce
  • 1 tbs kochujang
  • 2 tbs olive oil plus extra for drizzling
  • flour for rolling out dough


  1. Preheat oven at 450 degrees F.
  2. Let the dough sit at room temperature for 15 minutes if it was refrigerated.
  3. Coat a cutting board with a dusting of flour. Make sure your rolling pin is also dusted with flour.
  4. Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape (about 14" x 12").
  5. Cut out strips that are about 3/4" wide.
  6. Fold each strip in half before tying them into knots.
  7. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Drizzle the tops of the knots with olive oil.
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the knots are just cooked through. (Do not overcook or you'll end up with dry knots. Pull knots out of the oven before they brown.)
  10. Heat a wok or large saute pan on low, add 1 1/2 tbs of oil, and cook minced garlic for 30 seconds. Add knots to the wok and stir the garlic flavored oil through the knots.
  11. Increase heat to medium, and stir in marinara sauce and kochujang. Coat the knots evenly in the sauce. If sauce is too thick, add a spoonful of water.
  12. Cook in the sauce for a minute or two.
  13. Right before serving, drizzle the rest of the oil onto the knots.


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