Friday, April 16, 2021

Smart things people did to make food more nutritious or edible.

I did a bit of research about the flavors in Asian foods. My family loves Chinese and Japanese food, well the American version. I understand they have a restaurant in China that serves what is found in the American Chinese restaurants that the locals like to explore and the American expats love as a bit of home. Plus I have been watching Midnight Diner on Netflix.

The show, Midnight Diner, led to learning about koji which is a fungus that is used to ferment rice, barley, soybeans. The fungus in China is healthy and improves the food. Similar varieties of the fungus in North America are quite poisonous. We don't think of all those natural spores floating in the air. We add yeast to aid fermentation to make wine or whiskey. 

At one time, mother nature deposited that yeast in time from the atmosphere. I've heard when they were making a vat of whiskey in the mountains when my mother was a child if an animal fell in the fermenting corn and died, they just left it. My grandfather was not a drinker but he brewed moonshine a few times. It could be hard to make a living in the 30's and 40's.

Anyhow, koji is behind the manufacture of soy sauce, miso and koji rice. There is also a fermented rice called Tapai. I have always enjoyed the stories of the buried cabbage that was described as disgusting when I was a child. As an adult, I know sauerkraut when I see it. Those school yard stories are probably told about we Americans in Korea about our disgusting cabbage, cucumbers, green tomatoes and okra. My dad always loved to make a sandwich of pickled green tomatoes to snack on.

Koji rice is healthier than white rice in that it contains isoflavones which help prevent cancer. Add to that, koji also has probiotic qualities. There is currently a trend for Shio Koji which is Koji rice I think. This trend has not made it to central Georgia. And as I have written in the past, I live on one of the many edges of the universe. Sort of a precipice of regional culturalism which is hard for different parts of the world to penetrate. But we do have lots of cats.

One thing we eat a lot of is hominy grits. Hominy is produced by soaking corn in a mild lye solution. The resulting corn is more nutritious, releases B vitamins and easier to digest. This process called nixtamalization was found in Guatemala 3500 years ago. 

We eat much more corn in the Americas than the rest of the world which usually favors wheat. On reddit I noticed eating fresh corn in Europe was more of a beach holiday type of food or something thrown on a salad. In the Americas corn is used to fatten cattle, produce sweeteners and all sorts of products. We have sweet corn for eating, flint corn for popcorn, and field corn to feed animals and production of various corn products. 

Now the potato truly made it around the world from the Americas to the point I don't imagine people can't imagine not having the potato. The potato increased the population of Europe by about 25% after it's introduction. I love a potato. But I don't think frying a potato makes it more nutritious. It does increase the calories and tastes very good. 



Hominy

9 comments:

  1. Increasingly I am leaning towards simple food. The type of food that our ancestors ate. Heavily processed food just doesn't do it for me now, I don't like the flavour (or lack of it) and it doesn't make my body feel good.

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    1. I could not agree with you more. Our dinners usually focus around dried or fresh beans. I have had several animals who got quite old and feeding them their special food prolonged their life. One dear cat spent a week eating with the other cats. She just enjoyed their company. I lost her that week. Diet is important.

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  2. I eat cornmeal almost daily, in the form of porridge (polenta) usually accompanying yogurt or cottage cheese, but sometimes even a meat dish.
    I don't buy chinese food or ingredients, but I'm familiar with the names- koji, for example as they're used in chinese herbal supplements too.

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    1. I understand polenta and grits are the same thing. We use ground corn or ground hominy to make grits. I would like to eat grits daily but I have to keep my carbs down since I am diabetic.

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  3. We love Asian food. With lockdown I have been even more adventurous than normal with changing the menus a lot at home. Now we are watching the carbohydrates as although I have not put on weight my husband has!!!
    Hope you are well. Diane

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  4. P.S. Corn is the basic food of Africa and it is called mealie meal there.

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    1. Now that is an interesting tidbit. mealie meal I have always been impressed how a food agency can deliver a 50 pound bag of soybeans and the locals immediately know how to prepare them.

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  5. Thanks for that info. I wasn't aware of koji at all, or its part in fermenting soy sauce. I also wasn't aware that potatoes came originally from America. The Irish like to think potatoes are a strictly Irish food.

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  6. I remember going into local restaurants in Ireland and the patrons would be eating a big plate of fried potatoes and a soda. We have such a meat heavy diet in the States. It would be a burger and a soda.

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