Curious about ferments? About microfauna? About employing life in service of itself? Come learn 5 simple ferments — in one beautiful night — with kindred world-changers — in a lovely, community-provided space — including time both during and after, to talk freely, and of things that bubble. (For more info, see www.natureworks-ny.net)
Recently I received the above e-mail announcing a workshop that focuses on preparing fermented foods. The e-mail reminded me that without my conscious intention, fermented foods–like sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt, and miso–had complete dropped out of my diet.
Culinary traditions all over the world include some form of fermented food and, according to Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Wisdom (www.westonaprice.org/foodfeatures/lacto.html) they play a vital role in the maintenance of good health: The ancient Greeks understood that important chemical changes took place during [lacto-] fermentation…Like the fermentation of dairy products, preservation of vegetables and fruits by the process of lacto-fermentation has numerous advantages beyond those of simple preservation. The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances.
I’m heading to the kitchen right now to make miso soup–miso being one of my favorite fermented foods!
Miso Noodle Soup with Arugula
If you have both dark and light misos on hand, use half of each for a more complex flavor. Take care that you don’t boil the soup once you’ve added the miso; high heat destroys the vital enzymes in miso.
Serves 6 as appetizer
2 ounces bean thread (cellophane) noodles
3 ounces fresh shiitake
2 teaspoons safflower oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced (keep white and green parts separate)
1 small carrot, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on the diagonal
Large handful baby arugula
1 teaspoon grated ginger
4 to 6 tablespoons dark miso, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Tamari soy sauce (optional)
Place the noodles in a bowl with ample warm water to cover. Set aside.
Meanwhile, trim the mushrooms and wipe off grit with a damp cloth. Snap off stems and chop finely. Thinly slice caps; set aside.
Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the scallion whites, mushrooms, and carrot, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Drain the noodles and add them to the pot along with the arugula, ginger, and scallion greens.
Use a fork to blend 4 tablespoons miso into 1 cup warm water. Turn heat to low and stir into soup. If the soup doesn’t have a rich miso flavor, ladle out some liquid and dissolve another tablespoon or two of miso into it; then stir into soup. Add toasted sesame oil and tamari to taste.