Monday, April 20, 2009

Oatmeal with Soy Sauce

Given the fact that I've eaten this dish non-stop for two days it is a little sad that I don't have proper picture. But trust me when I say that this is a good, dare I say great, little dish.

A little while back Mark Bittman made mention of adding scallions and soy sauce to oatmeal. Little did he know that he'd started off a sh_tstorm. The comments all over the internet came pouring in. Some were curious, even supportive but the majority of people found it strange and gross to put soy sauce in a good associated with milk, brown sugar and raisins.

I admit to being very intrigued but never really followed up on the idea. I had grown up on oatmeal for breakfast as a child and actually never really cared for it. No amount of brown sugar or raisins made it sweet enough for me and it would often sit in front me getting cold and going uneaten. My mom, trying to get me to eat a proper breakfast, would often threaten that if I didn't eat the oatmeal that it would reappear for my dinner. And lo and behold, it would. For dinner I'd sometimes be faced with the very oatmeal I had not eaten for breakfast. Only this time, it was cold from the fridge. Bad childhood food memories indeed.

Oatmeal had a place in my kitchen but only as an ingredient in oatmeal cookies and it sat beside the sugar and flour in my pantry. But again, my curiosity got the best of me and I found myself hungry after a workout. I didn't have anything in the kitchen worth fixing before I had to scoot to work but I was tired of my usual pumpernickel bagel. Ahh, now seemed like a good time to try the Mark Bittman oatmeal trick.

I cooked the oatmeal according to the instructions but without milk and when it was finished I added a handful of chopped scallions and about three spoonfuls of soy sauce. I stirred it in and tasted. It tasted familiar and comforting. Infact, it was delicious! It was like rice congee but without the rice! The scallions added crunch as well as flavor. How could something so simple be so good or so controversial?

I went to work but thought about the dish all day. That evening after it had cooked I added a bit of sesame oil and another handful of chopped spinach. The sesame oil didn't really add much and provided a lesson in keeping things simple but the spinach added a bit more green crunch and was lovely. I imagine asparagus would be great as well. Later, I added a chunk of herbed goat cheese and some oil brined olives; it was wonderful as well. Not as good as the soy sauce version but different and still really tasty.

Not convinced? I say, "try it!". Considering how cheap oatmeal is, you have nothing to lose if you don't like it. Plus, if oatmeal isn't really your thing, you can just make some cookies with the leftover oats.

Leah's Riff on Mark Bittman's Savory Oatmeal Idea:
1 cup oatmeal
2 cups water
dash of salt
(cook oatmeal, water and salt as directed)

1 cup fresh chopped spinach
2 stalks of scallions
4 teaspoons of soy sauce (more if you're a salt fiend like me)

Once the oatmeal is cooked and still hot add the spinach, scallions and soy sauce. Stir like crazy and eat.

Leah's Second Try:
1 cup oatmeal
2 cups water
dash of salt
(cook oatmeal, water and salt as directed)

1 good sized nub of goatcheese
6 oil brined olives pitted and chopped (or if you're like me, ripped apart with your fingers).

Once the oatmeal is cooked and still hot add the goat cheese and olives. Stir like crazy and eat.

I'm still a big fan of the soy sauce version but if you're a goat cheese fan, the second version will probably win you over.


dotorious said...

I found that the soy sauce flavor is a little... flat, so you know what I've been doing? Sprinkle some (Korean) roasted seaweed. YUM! Of course, now I gotta remind myself to reduce the sodium...

Leah said...

That sounds really good! I wish there were better Korean markets in Boston. I never understood why there wasn't better. There certainly are enough of us here and well if I'm craving homemade Korean curry (Korean chick raised by white folks) I can only imagine that there is a demand for a K-grocery store :P

gjohung said...

I been having oat meal with soy sauce for years. it is like an asian porridge.

You also might try mushroom or even top it with raw eggs.