Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kimchi - one of the great foods!

Let me introduce you to kimchi, one of the world's greatest, tastiest, healthiest foods!

Kimchi is a Korean food that is very popular in Japan. It is a spicy pickle made from vegetables, garlic and red chilli, served with almost every meal in Korea. In Korea, I hear that there are more than 200 different kinds of kimchi; in a typical Japanese supermarket there are probably about 10.

Over the years I've tried many of them, some of them were way too salty and fishy for my taste. I like this fairly standard one made from cabbage.

According to Wikipedia, Health Magazine named kimchi as one of the top 5 'World's Healthiest Foods' for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly reducing cancer growth. It is very high in dietary fibre, vitamin C and carotene, and is also rich in vitamin A, B1, B2, calcium and iron.

It is a probiotic and antioxidant food. Small scale studies show that it may have some efficacy in repressing avian flu H5N1 (well-fermented 3 year old kimchi mind you!), and they are now testing it's use against swine flu A/H1N1. I'm a little cynical about this... Both of these are viruses, not bacterial infections. However, I can see that if it strengthens your immune system, that has to be a good thing!

Over the last few years, I've been eating it a few times a week. Actually I think the first time I ate it was in okonomiyaki. I like it with grated cheese and brown rice for breakfast, and/or as a snack when I get home from work. If I put the rice cooker on with a little kimchi at the bottom of the rice, then oh, the delicious smell that greets me when I get home from work! (However, the rice actually cooks better if you add the kimchi at the end of cooking). Sometimes, I eat a little just as it is, especially if I have a cold! I certainly miss eating it when I'm away. All this has made my mouth water, guess what I'm going to have for tea tonight?!

Creamy Mushrooms in a Roll

Recently, one of my brothers gave me a couple of cookery books by Nigel Slater. I really like Nigel Slater's style of writing, and I find myself inspired by his recipes, wanting to adapt them to my taste. He says in his books that many of his recipes are adaptations of other people's recipes, so I have no qualms in doing the same...! Anyway, this is my adaptation of one of his recipes, adaptations made for my limited cooking equipment, time and using a lot less cream (and healthier sour cream rather than double cream)...

Ingredients (serves 1)
small piece of unsalted butter for frying
1 small onion, chopped
100g mushrooms, chopped (I used bunashimeji, sometimes called beech mushrooms)
1 crisp roll, or the end of a baguette
about 30ml sour cream (or two heaped teaspoons)
salt, pepper and paprika for seasoning

  • Hollow out the roll or baguette end, reserving the bread.
  • In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onions and fry over a medium heat until softened.
  • Add the mushrooms, crumble in the breadcrumbs and continue to fry until golden brown.
  • Stir in the sour cream and mix until hot. Season with a little salt, and lots of paprika and freshly ground mixed peppercorns.
  • Spoon into the hollowed out bread roll and eat immediately!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Egg Drop and Salmon Soup

All quantities are approximate - it's really not important to measure everything out. I used a 400ml bowl because this was breakfast! If this was a side dish, then this would easily serve 2.

Ingredients (serves 1-2, multiply quantities as necessary)
400ml of water made into a light stock (I used katsuodashi which is stock made from bonito flakes, but any stock would be ok)
a dash of soy sauce (about 1 teaspoon)
1 - 2 teaspoons of seaweed, perhaps wakame (I used nebarumekabu)
1/2 teaspoon of potato starch or cornflour, mixed with a little water)
1 teaspoon ginger paste or grated ginger with juice
2 slices cooked or smoked salmon
1 egg, beaten

  • Add the seaweed to the stock and heat until very hot but not boiling.
  • Mix in the soy sauce and ginger, and stir in the potato starch mixture. It will not noticeably thicken, but will just stop the egg from sinking to the bottom.
  • Add the salmon, and stir in the beaten egg, which will set immediately in strands.
  • Serve immediately.