Behind The Blue Door

Stylish Weekends | March 15, 2016 |

A cultured dish:

Are you ready for the fermented food trend?

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Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso, sourdough – all the latest dishes to turn heads. And what do they have in common? They’re all fermented.

But this latest foodie craze isn’t as modern as it may seem; fermented food stretches back 9000 years, although 21st century chefs are introducing new twists – bursting with innovative taste and flavour.

Fermented foods are often known for their earthy taste but they’re not only fashionable for their flavour – they have stacks of health benefits too. From improving gut health and easing the digestion process (thanks to their probiotic-rich nature), they are even known to help treat anxiety.

Here’s our pick of the best fermented food to use in the kitchen – and where to find them when eating out.

 

Kimchi

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This Korean side dish is bursting with flavour and is popping up everywhere – from gourmet street food traders to bang-on-trend restaurants. Championed by celebrity chef Gizzi Erskine (she even named her cat after the dish), the spicy cabbage dish is mixed with radish, red chilli, garlic and salt.

There are said to be 187 versions of kimchi; we’re settling for a classic recipe from BBC Good Food.

Where to try it: Jinjuu, Soho, London

Kimchi takes on various guises at this Soho eatery, dedicated to traditional Korean street food. It stars in carnitas fries (French fries slathered with cheddar, thinly sliced pork and fresh kimchi), kimchi fried rice and short rib and kimchi mandoo (crispy dumplings stuffed with braised beef, mushrooms and kimchi), among others. It’s even included in the restaurant’s version of caesar salad dressing.

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try kimchi in liquid form, with Jinjuu’s spiced Kimchi Mary. Turning a brunch favourite on its head, the cocktail is laced with Jinjuu’s homemade kimchi spice mix – and it packs a fiery punch.

 

Sauerkraut

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The origins of this cabbage-based side dish have long been disputed but it’s well-rooted in European history. A doddle to make at home (we love this simple recipe from The Telegraph), use it on sausages, casseroles and bagels, for a tasty, zingy hit.

Where to try: Boopshi’s, Fitzrovia, London

Whether you choose chicken schnitzel or pork shoulder, make sauerkraut your side dish of choice at this Austrian hotspot in the heart of Fitzrovia.

Kombucha

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Fermented food even makes an appearance in the tea world – in the form of kombucha. Water, sugar and tea are the only ingredients required here; the magic lies in the scoby (a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). A scoby will transform your tea into a fermented beverage, with a slight sour taste, said to bring plenty of health benefits.

Better Raw provides a step-by-step tutorial if you fancy making this at home – otherwise you can pick it up from high street shops, including Holland and Barrett.

Where to try it: The Langham’s Artesian – Marylebone, London

The award-winning mixologists at The Langham’s Artesian bar have switched traditional concoctions in favour of innovative creations for a more surreal menu. You’ll find kombucha blended with Johnnie Walker Gold, chamomile, Vetiver and sandalwood, to create the ‘fast money comes at a dangerous price’ cocktail.

 

Sourdough

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Far from what we know as traditional bread, sourdough has become the most fashionable loaf on the baker’s shelf.

Full of character, texture and complex flavour, it is now a much-loved regular on the brunch scene – and it only requires two ingredients; flour and water. Left to naturally ferment, the simple dough mix uses wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria from the atmosphere to create a bubble-filled loaf. Try your hand at sourdough with Great British Bake Off finalist James Morton’s recipe.

Where to try: Brick House Bread, South London

Specialists in sourdough, this south London bakery employs a San Francisco-style slow fermentation over two days to create award-winning loaves. With a shop and cafe on site, why not sample the favourite Peckham Rye, with homemade nutella or simple mashed avocado and a squeeze of lemon?

 

Miso

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A Japanese seasoning, bringing a savoury, rich intensity to dishes, miso is created from fermenting soybeans with salt and koji (a type of fungus). The result is a versatile thick paste that can be used in anything – from marinating meat to the base of a classic soup. While it’s still chilly outside, opt for Hemsley + Hemsley’s ginger miso broth for a warming boost.

Where to try: Aqua Kyoto, Soho in London

Miso is a key ingredient at this popular Japanese restaurant – but when it comes to its brunch menu, the edamame and miso soup should come top of your list.

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Ready to try fermented food at home? Make sure you serve it up in Wedgwood's range of bowls, for a stylish choice.

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