(Part 1 on Gut Health)
I bet you didn’t know that. I’ll also bet you didn’t know Worcestershire (Worcester for short) Sauce is the result of aging (fermenting) anchovies, shallots, garlic, soy sauce, tamarind, salt and vinegar inside wooden barrels for a long time.
But now that we’ve told you, let’s talk about the reason why we are discussing fermentation today.
“80% of your immune system is located in your digestive system, making a healthy gut a major focal point if you want to maintain optimal health. Remember, a robust immune system is your number one defense system against ALL disease.” Dr Mercola
Our Ancestors Started It
Fermented food is your key to good health. Both Dr Mercola of Mercola.com and Dr Williams of drdavidwilliams.com agree that there’s more to the humble traditional fermented foods of our ancestors than meets the taste buds.
Fermentation has a long history. Apparently our ancestors hit on the idea as far back as 6000 BC! Every civilization since has had at least one fermented food or beverage as part its culinary culture. Fermentation was mostly a preservation technique and the first attempts at fermentation were for brewing or for making bread, using yeast. Our ancestors also discovered that fermentation changed the taste of the food and that it had health benefits too.
Fermentation is a metabolic process that converts sugar to acids, gases or alcohol. It occurs in yeast and bacteria but also in oxygen-starved muscle cells, as in the case of lactic acid fermentation. French microbiologist Louis Pasteur is often remembered for his insights into fermentation and its microbial causes.
Our Own Traditional Fermented Foods
Our own list of homegrown fermented foods include: Cincaluk, Tempoyak, and Tapai, and probably a few others too that never made it into modern packaging and the supermarket shelves.
And then there are those that were brought here by the Chinese and Indian immigrants of long ago and they include the Chinese fermented beancurd, fermented vegetables, fermented soy paste, stinky tofu,
Appam (Indian pancake made with rice batter and coconut milk fermented with yeast), lassi, and curd (yoghurt). And then there is the range of commercially packaged cultured drinks like Vitagen, Yakult and so on.
Kefir and Yoghurt ─ Nutritionally not the same
Cultured drinks and commercial yoghurt are widely available here on our supermarket shelves but on the homemade front, there is Kefir. These days, they are all the rage in health conscious kitchens.
Kefir, (pronounced as keh’-feer) according to benefitsofkefir.com, is also known as “Grains of the Prophet Mohammed”, “Drink of the Prophet”, “Tibetan Mushroom”, “Balm of Gilead”, “California Bees”, “Snow Lotus”, kombucha, tibcos, “Yogurt Plant”, “Yogurt Mushroom”. But actually, it is a cultured beverage that originally hails from Russia. The Russians used kefir to cure tuberculosis and apparently, there is proof it worked.
Because kefir and yogurt are both cultured milk products, people think they are the same but actually, they are different because but they contain different strains of micro-organisms. Yogurt contains two types of bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus while kefir contains several other strains of bacteria not commonly found in yogurt: Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter, Streptococcus and Pseudomonas species. Kefir also contains different strains of yeast like Candida, Kluyveromyces and Saccharomyces.
Long before refrigeration was discovered, people looked for ways to preserve milk. That was how kefir, curd, yoghurt, lassi and even sour cream and cheese were born.
Fermentation in the East
Writes Dr Williams: “Sour milk products have been part of our ancestors’ diets ever since the collecting of milk from animals began. Lactic acid–fermented foods have also been dietary staples for thousands of years. Early writings show that Chinese workers ate acid-fermented
vegetables while building the Great Wall of China. The Japanese have routinely served a small serving of pickled vegetable with their meals. Centuries ago, the Koreans developed kimchi by acid-fermenting cabbage and other vegetables. In fact, lactic acid-fermented cabbage has been revered as one of the most beneficial healing agents since early humans.”
In fact, the Japanese miso, made through the fermentation of soybeans has been hailed as the Healthiest Food InThe World!
What is required to ferment foods is lactic acid and lactic acid has bacteria such as Lactobacillus, Lactococcus and Leuconostoc.
Fermented Foods Available Here Include:
Appam ~ A type of South Indian made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk. Available in any Indian or Mamak shop
Lassi, Curd (Yoghurt) ~ In India, yoghurt is known more as curd than yoghurt. It is actually curdled milk. Lassi is the sweetened drink made from curd.
Chinese Fermented Beancurd
Cincaluk ~ Fermented Shrimp (scroll down for a simple Cincaluk Omelette recipe)
Kefir ~Fermented milk made with kefir grains
Miso ~ is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and the fungus Aspergillus oryzae
Belacan ~ Shrimp paste
Chinese Preserved Vegetables
Budu ~ Fish sauce
Tempoyak ~ made of fermented durian
2-Minute Cincaluk Omelette with Cauliflower
Ingredients & Method
- 2 eggs beaten with 1 tsp of cincaluk
- Heat oil in pan, throw in vegetables of your choice, spread beaten egg into pan, wait 2 minutes and voila!
With excerpts from Wikipedia, Mercola.com, drdavidwilliams.com, benefitsofkefir.com