It can be sweet, sour, and even downright smelly: fermented food. Despite its relatively stinky reputation, this super food is (re)hitting the ground with force; all kinds of chefs have begun incorporating it into their menus.
Fermented Food Releases New Flavors
During fermentation, food is biologically transformed by the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in or on it. “In general, a pool of larger-molecular-weight, and usually less flavor-active molecules … are transformed into a more diverse group of tastier, smaller molecules, such as amino acids, organic acids, esters … and aromatic compounds,” explains this NPR.org article.
Many chefs, such as David Chang, have started to cook more with fermented food; the fermentation process is rather simple and helps release a food’s inner flavors that cannot be tasted otherwise. A good example is the simplest of all– the pickle! Think of the different between slapping some sauerkraut onto your hot dog versus throwing down some straight, raw cabbage. Big difference, eh? That’s because the fermentation process is a flavor-boosting phenomenon!
Chang gave a lecture at Harvard about the fermentation process and how it can affect and enhance our cuisine in the future. He describes fermentation as “when rotten goes right” since the rotting process is what extracts all of the delicious flavor and nutrients! He and his team plan on trying their best to incorporate this “universal process,” as he calls it, into American cuisine to establish it as part of the culture. Doing so will help improve the flavors of our food as well as increase the overall nutrition of the food– a dire objective for American cuisine.
It is an Affordable Alternative to Expensive Spices
Although our world is full of delicious, ethnically-diverse spices, their cost can be rather…. alarming. Fermenting ingredients, such a garlic cloves, releases a whole new type of flavor that can create a party on the palate. Whether you like spicy, sweet, or tangy, fermenting ingredients can help release a delicious flavor that can challenge that Machalepi (a rather expensive, ethnic spice).
It Contains Powerful Probiotics
As we’ve talked about before in our blogs, fermented food is chock-full of probiotics. Good bacteria is what breaks down the food, causing it to ferment. Just like the flavors in the spices, the probiotic levels in food get heightened and can be used to help increase your daily intake of these powerful microbes. With society now leaning toward more healthy food, chefs are adopting this practice of fermentation to help their restaurants reach the health-focused foodies.
Professional chefs aren’t the only people that can use the power of fermentation! If you like to cook and are interested in giving your menu an extra boost of probiotics, check out different fermented food that could benefit you and your family!
Whether you choose a supplement or a food source for probiotics, there are a number of avenues available to help you make this healthy lifestyle change.