Pickled garlic is not called for in many recipes, but it can be substituted for fresh garlic in many dishes, and Thais enjoy it as an accompaniment to many meat snacks. At the Anusarn night market in Chiang Mai you'll find huge jars of pickled garlic among the many other preserved fruits. The single clove variety used may be pickled in honey, or a mixture of spices.
Pickled Garlic on sale in bulk in a Chiang Mai market.
Pickled garlic is a speciality of many villages around Thailand. One of the more famous is Si Racha on Thailand's east coast, near the beach resort of Pattaya. No weekend getaway to the beach is complete without a stop at the roadside stalls to pick up several large bottles of pickled garlic for the round jolly lady everyone, including myself, calls “auntie” (ee).
Auntie runs a som tam stall at the low income housing complex near Bangkok's old Don Muang International Airport. Her daughters, nieces and other relatives run various other stalls, including one that sells the best sun dried beef in Bangkok. Auntie was originally from Chiang Mai, so her collection of stalls is one of the few places in Bangkok where you can get authentic northern foods such as sausage (sai ooa).
You can probably find pickled garlic in a Chinese or Thai speciality grocers, but you can also make it yourself. Note that any recipe needs to be aged before it is used. Some experts recommend that you leave the jar in a sunny place for at least 15 days before refrigerating it.