Fermented foods are showing up everywhere. We’re not talking about traditional varieties like cheese, pickles or sauerkraut, but about the more unusual items that are increasing in popularity: kefir, tempeh, miso and kimchi.
Common to Asian palates, these fermented foods are growing in Western culinary consciousness. Fermented foods add a probiotic component into our diet that aids in digestion, supports immunity and enhances friendly bacteria.
We’ve developed some simple recipes to help you benefit from fermented and probiotic eating.
Tarragon Tempeh Salad in Pita Pockets
This delicious lunch special contains tempeh (fermented soybeans) in place of chicken. For an extra probiotic kick, the dressing can be made with either kefir (a fermented milk product) or plain probiotic yogurt.
8 oz (250 g) plain tempeh
3 Tbsp (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 Tbsp (45 mL) plain kefir or probiotic yogurt
2 Tbsp (30 mL) mayonnaise
2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper
1/2 Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, cored and diced
1/4 cup (60 mL) coarsely chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp (15 mL) liquid honey
4 whole wheat pitas, halved, or 8 slices of rustic bread, gluten free if desired
Cube tempeh into 1/2 in (1.25 cm) cubes. Heat 1 Tbsp (15 mL) oil in frying pan and sauté cubes until golden brown on all sides. Add a little more oil if needed. Remove to plate to cool.
Combine kefir or yogurt, remaining oil, mayonnaise, Dijon and lemon zest in bowl. Whisk together to blend. Stir in tarragon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fold in cubed tempeh, apple and walnuts. Drizzle with honey and gently fold in. Line pita halves with lettuce and tuck tempeh filling into pocket. Serve immediately.
If making ahead, dice tempeh and gently fry until golden. Whisk dressing in bowl. Refrigerate separately. Assemble with diced apple, walnuts and honey just before serving.
Each serving contains: 439 calories; 18 g protein; 24 g total fat (4 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 46 g carbohydrates (4 g sugar, 6 g fiber); 392 mg sodium
Spicy Fried Rice with Kimchi and Eggs
SERVES 4 TO 6
Many experienced kimchi eaters love it as is, without anything else—after all, this Korean fermented veggie dish has plenty of seasoning. But if the flavor is a little too strong for you, here’s an excellent way to pretty up a rice dish while capitalizing on kimchi’s healthy probiotic properties.
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
3 cups (750 mL) cooked brown basmati rice
1 cup (250 mL) prepared kimchi, drained and coarsely chopped
1/2 to 1 Tbsp (7 to 15 mL) chili paste
2 tsp (10 mL) sesame oil
1 cup (250 mL) very finely shredded Swiss chard
Whisk eggs in bowl until smooth. Heat 1 tsp (5 mL) oil in pan and swirl to coat the bottom. When piping hot, add eggs and tip pan to evenly coat the bottom. Cook egg over medium heat until it sets. Invert onto large plate and set aside.
Heat remaining oil in large frying pan or wok. Add garlic and onion and sauté until soft. Be careful not to brown. Add peppers and stir-fry just until crisp and bright colored, about 1 minute. Add cooked rice and stir-fry over medium-high heat until it begins to crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your stove’s heat. Stir often to prevent it from sticking. Add kimchi, chili paste and sesame oil, and fold in until evenly distributed. Continue to stir-fry for 1 more minute. Remove from heat.
Add salt to taste. Scatter with chard and lightly fold in, leaving a little to garnish the top.
Cut fried egg into long, thin strips. Place generous scoop of fried rice onto serving plate. Scatter with a bit of remaining shredded chard and strips of fried egg.
Each of 4 servings contains: 298 calories; 8 g protein; 11 g total fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 44 g carbohydrates (4 g sugar, 6 g fiber); 182 mg sodium
Rice Bowl with Grilled Veggies and Miso Gravy
A meal in a bowl is comfort food at its finest—especially when it’s richly flavored with miso (fermented soybean paste). Chances of leftovers are low, but this delicious meal is equally excellent for lunch the following day.
1 cup (250 mL) vegetable stock
2 Tbsp (30 mL) light miso paste, gluten free if desired
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) sesame oil
2 tsp (10 mL) maple syrup
1 tsp (5 mL) chili paste
1 large garlic clove, smashed and finely minced
1 tsp (5 mL) peeled and grated ginger root
Freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon
2 Tbsp (30 mL) all-purpose whole wheat or gluten-free flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) water
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and quartered
1 large zucchini, diagonally sliced into 1/4 in (0.5 cm) rounds
1/4 lb (125 g) asparagus spears
2 large tomatoes, thickly sliced
1/2 bunch green onions, trimmed
3 cups (750 mL) cooked brown jasmine rice
Combine stock, miso, oils, maple syrup, chili paste, garlic, ginger and lemon juice in medium-sized saucepan. Whisk together to blend. Heat until just about boiling.
In separate bowl, combine flour and water and whisk to blend. Gradually whisk into warmed stock and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until gravy is thickened. Cover and set aside while preparing remaining ingredients.
Lightly brush pepper, zucchini, asparagus, tomatoes and green onions with oil and grill on preheated barbecue grill until slightly golden but still crisp. Alternatively, roast lightly oiled veggies in 425 F (220 C) oven for 10 to 20 minutes.
To serve, place 3/4 cup (180 mL) cooked rice in center of 4 deep serving bowls. Ladle warm gravy over top of each. Top each with grilled vegetables.
Each serving contains: 265 calories; 7 g protein; 10 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 39 g carbohydrates (5 g sugar, 5 g fiber); 377 mg sodium