What is fermented food
According to Wikipedia, "Food fermentation is the conversion of sugars and other carbohydrates into alcohol or preservative organic acids and carbon dioxide." It is a an ancient way of preserving food for longer storage. It also brings out a special flavor that is usually acid and sour like vinegar. Every culture has it's own traditional fermented food. If you have never tried it, it might taste strange at first. Just keep an open mind, and you might enjoy them in the future.
Health benefit of fermented food
Why is fermented food good for your health? During fermentation, good bacteria grows and bad bacteria is controlled. When we eat the fermented food, the good bacteria continue to help digestion, balance out the bad bacteria, and keep our gut healthy. It also helps with inflammatory skin problem that is often caused by a diet of overly refined sugar and processed food. F the super food that works hard on regulating our body after ingestion. Fermented food is the "live" food that will balance our body functions. Incorporating some of the fermented food in our diet keeps our health on the right track.
10 fermented food you should try
Yogurt is a very common fermented food. It is full of probiotics to help digestion and regulate bowel movement. Check the sugar content on the package. Many contains fruit jam and extra sugar that is not ideal for health. Plain or Greek yogurt is the best choice. You can also make yogurt at home easily. There is a lot of recipes on line about how to make yogurt. Blend it into a smooth with other veggies and fruit makes the special sour yogurt taste less noticeable.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with Kefir grains, a bacteria/ yeast mixture. After fermenting milk, the Kefir grains are removed. Kefir is like liquid yogurt. It contains the probiotic bacteria that is beneficial for digestive track.
Kombucha is fermented from tea leaves, usually black tea. With added sugar, the liquid turns into a light alcoholic drink over time. Again it contains probiotic, fights candida overgrowth, helps immune systems and digestive health. It has the quality of both a tea and alcohol. It is a much better choice than soda if you need a little bubble. You can also brew your own Kombucha at home. Many store bought Kombucha comes with different flavors. Ginger, original or green veggie is my favorite choices.
The traditional Korean spicy dishes that can open up your appetite and add variety to your diet. Yes it has all the benefit of all fermented food. It balances the good and bad bacteria in the body. Some people can not take the strong spice. If you make it at home, you can control how long you want to ferment it, and reduce the intense spice.
Japanese Miso paste is also a popular fermented food. It is made from soybeans and salt mainly. There are many types of Miso: white, red, mixed, organic, reduced salt.... It can also be categorized by the ingredients: wheat, barley, buck wheat, rye, brown rice and so on. It is personal preference to find the taste you like. Miso is great for making soup, noodle soup, and seafood. It is also a common breakfast in Japan. Dissolve the paste with small amount of soup first and add at the end of the cooking. It will preserve the live bacteria without overheating.
Natto is another famous or infamous Japanese food. You either addicted to it or can not stand it at all. It is fermented soybean with a stringy, muddy texture and pungent flavor. Some says it is like cheese. No matter you like it or not, it does have all the health benefits. In Japanese store, you can buy it in a small package. Just open and stir. You can eat alone, mix in with rice or other food. It is very common to serve as a breakfast in Japanese hotels.
7. Dou Chi, or Douchi (豆豉)
Dou Chi is the Chinese version of Japanese Natto beans. It is fermented, salty black soybeans. It is used in cooking many traditional Chinese dishes. Like Natto, it is often served as breakfast side dish with rice or congee. It is pungent and salty, often sold in a jar or can in Chinese supermarket.
Tempah is like fermented Tofu, originally from Indonesia. It is another fermented soy bean. It is a good meat substitute because of it's texture. There are many types of Tempah depending on the preparing method. You can eat it as a snack, stir fry, deep fry, and eat it as a hamburger meat. Tempah has a nutty, mushroom like flavor.
Sauerkraut is fermented or pickled cabbage you can make easily at home. To make Sauerkraut, shred some cabbage, add salt, and let it sit in a covered jar for several weeks. Like many other pickled vegetable, Sauerkraut contains different vitamins, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria.
10. Soy sauce
Soy sauce is one of the common fermented food we often overlook. They come in different types: Japanese, Chinese, Tamari, light, dark, reduce sodium, organic and so on. Most of them use fermented soybean as the major ingredient. Some modern soy sauce does not use fermented soybean, but a fast method of hydrolyzing soy protein with added flavors. Try to avoid those fast manufactured soy sauce. The classical method produces the most natural, healthy, and flavorful soy sauce.
Even with all the benefit of fermented food, balance is more important in any diet. Over eating any food will easily cause side effects or digestion problems. Because of the special flavor and function of the fermented food, we should start small and know our limit. Try different ways of cooking a new food and see what works for you best. Let us know what is your favorite fermented food in the comment.