Mike Map

View Mike Map in a larger map

Monday, September 13, 2010

Korean Breakfast, v.2

I mentioned a while ago that, in an attempt to eat both healthier and more locally, I was trying to make the move to a more Korean-style breakfast. Under the influence of my Vipassana course, that mostly meant porridge and kimchi. However, I prefer not to eat rice more than once a day - I'm not carb-counting, it just makes me feel lethargic.

So, first, I replaced the rice with sweet potato. (Later, when I told a friend I was no longer buying bananas in order to buy local, he freaked me out by asking where I got my potassium. Though I generally believe that, 1) since Koreans lived for thousands of years without bananas, their cuisine must provide all essential nutrients somehow; and that 2) any diet that contains a wide variety of plant foods will provide sufficient amounts of almost all nutrients, I still decided to have a look. Turns out sweet potatoes have almost exactly as much potassium as bananas per 100g).

Also pictured, clockwise from the sweet potato: Kong-jaban, a side-dish made by boiling black beans in sesame oil, soy sauce, and sugar or rice syrup; yeon-geun banchan, a side-dish made by putting sliced lotus root through a similar process; kkaetnip-kimchi, made by salting, red-pepper-flaking, and fermenting sesame leaves; and of course kimchi, made of salted, red-pepper-flaked, fermented cabbage. The beans I bought from an organic buffet restaurant I found and will review on my other site later; the lotus I made myself, and will teach you out later; both Kimchis were made by an older friend's even older mother.

This meal left me feeling lighter (though not hungrier) than the rice, and also kept me feeling full much longer than the oatmeal, fruit, nuts, and honey that I had been eating before. Probably also better for blood sugar stability, but I'm not sure about that.

Then I ran out of sweet potatoes and kimchi, so I switched to:

Carrots, cucumber-peppers (so named for their size and blandness), and tofu, in addition to the usual culprits.

And another variation, with better lighting:

In both cases, the raw vegetables are dipped in a thick sauce (visible in the third picture there) made by combining a spoonful of red pepper paste (spicy), a spoonful of fermented soybean past (salty), a few drops of sesame oil (rich, smooth, and smoky), and some minced garlic, if you want. The tofu can be dipped or soaked in a lighter sauce made of soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and pepper seed oil.

Of course, everything should have roasted sesame seeds sprinkled liberally on top. This adds a nice, nutty flavor, provides fat and protein, and gives you more calcium (per gram) than milk (assuming you chew well).

And best of all, everything can be prepared ahead of time. Steam the potatoes and keep them in the fridge; they'll last 4 or 5 days. The beans will last 2 or 3 weeks, no problem. The lotus will stay crisp and tasty for a week or more, and the tofu lasts at least a week after opening, if you keep it moist. All you need to do is rinse and chop the vegetables (less than 1 minute each), mix up each sauce (again, less than a minute each), and sprinkle on the sesame (10 seconds).

The resulting meals are quick, delicious, nutritious, easy to vary (just change one or two of the prepared foods), healthy, and made primarily of whole or minimally processed foods. Plus they cover a wide range of tastes and thus are harder to shovel down in an instant or two. Less time preparing, more time enjoying.


Anonymous said...

Is it sad that I love reading about what people eat for breakfast? I'm not afraid of carbs either, but similarly feel crummy if I eat too many. Sweet potatoes are a go-to food for me, also. Most weeks during the growing season, I bake up five on Sunday night and use them throughout the week.

Funny about the potassium; reminds me of how people automatically think of oranges for vitamin C even though there are so many great sources for it. Also reminds me of a term I can't stand: super food. Just encourages people to eat blueberries out of season (or out of geography...)

A Pek said...

I love the term superfood. I feel so self content and, dare-I-say, smug when eating them. The only things I currently consider superfoods are spinach and broccoli (I am open to more if I see some proof). Blueberries look like garbage compared to them. Some might argue for boneless skinless chicken breasts, but those are more like super-protein (not to mention egg whites).

Dave said...

@A Pek - Acai berries and pomegranates get a lot of play as "superfoods." Oranges seem pretty super as well. Also, a fresh Krispy Kreme donut is as super (tasting!) as it gets.

Mike said...

I think superfood number 1 would have to be a Hamburger with Krispy Kreme Donut Buns and a blueberry/orange/acai glaze.

Superfoods are whack! Why are people so obsessed with sipmlistic one-fell-swoop solutions? No matter what the amount of vitamin or mineral content in a food, absoprtion is limited by a ton of factors, like how long you chew it, the acidity of other foods in your stomach, and synergies with other foods or even other components of that very food. For example, milk is full of calcium, but all the protein keeps you from absorbing most of it. Sesame seeds have more calcium than milk (per gram) but you have to grind the seeds or make a paste to get the most out of it.

Can't we all just eat a well-balanced, colorful, varied diet and get along?