I’ve had a bit of a obsession with fermented foods lately. As backwards as it sounds, adding foods to your diet that are rich in bacteria actually help to keep your gut in a healthy natural balance, which aids in digestion and can help to boost your immune system. Fermentation is a chemical reaction that foods go through when they are introduced to an enzyme that is produced by bacteria. This chemical reaction can affect the food in different ways; from intensifying the taste, to changing the consistency, and in small daily doses they can help to digest foods that may be difficult for your body to digest on its own. For example, people who are lactose intolerant are not able to digest milk properly. However, when these people eat dairy products such as yogurt, which is already partially broken down by the bacteria in the fermenting process, their bodies are able to tolerate the dairy much better. You’re probably eating more fermented foods in your diet than you are actually aware of: coffee, chocolate, wine, beer, vanilla, yogurt, tabasco, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, prosciutto, soy sauce, and miso… yep, all fermented.
Anyways, this obsession has led me into looking at new ways to introduce fermented foods to my diet. Enter kimchi. Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish made up of fermented cabbage with garlic, salt, vinegar, chile peppers, and other spices. Its part of a high-fiber, low-fat diet and is considered by many to be one of the healthiest foods in the world. It can be either store bought at the refrigerated Asian section at your local grocery store, or can be made at home quite easily. After some researching, I found a recipe for chicken kimchi stew on momofukufor2, and decided to give it a whirl.
I was a little skeptical on how the recipe would turn out when I first opened the jar of kimchi, being that it smelled quite sour. However, the stew turned out to be delicious and satisfying. It was the perfect combination of sweet, spicy, savory, and salty. I was pretty surprised to see how much my kids loved it, even making comments like “Mmmm mommy this is soo good!” It has since become a regular on our dinner rotation. I typically use whatever chicken I have on hand at the time, but I’ve used everything from rotisserie chicken, to drumsticks that I had in the refrigerator and oven baked until done. I’ve also used both dried shiitake mushrooms as well as fresh (usually whatever is available at my local grocer) with great results both times. And the best part? The stew is really easy and ready in a little over 30 minutes, making it the perfect throw together meal for busy nights!
- 2 cups of cooked shredded chicken
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 14 oz jar kimchi
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 5 shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated (or fresh) and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp mirin
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Green onions for garnish
- If using dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrate them in the chicken broth until soft and set aside until ready to use
- Pan-fry the sliced onions in a touch of oil over medium heat. If using fresh shiitake mushrooms, add them to the cooked onions and saute until brown and melty.
- Add the kimchi and heat through.
- Add the chicken broth, chicken, (and rehydrated mushrooms, if using) and bring to a simmer. Add the mirin.
- Simmer the stew for at least 30 minutes so all the flavors meld together.
- Taste, season with salt and pepper, if needed, and garnish with green onions.
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