I've been keeping a secret this winter. I never thought I was superstitious until I considered sharing my secret and realized that I was afraid I would jinx it if I said it out loud. So I'm not going to say it out loud, I'm just going to quietly type it. The flu has been going around this winter, and from my understanding it's pretty nasty. I was fully expecting our family to get infected, but we never did. In fact, most of us have not even gotten a cold this winter. With two kids in elementary school and a toddler who puts everything in her mouth, including other people's tooth brushes, I couldn't figure out how we were avoiding getting sick. Then I realized that it's probably from eating fermented foods so much.
My husband and I eat lacto fermented sour kraut, kimchi, curtido or jalapenos several times per week. My daughters eat lacto fermented cucumber pickles almost every day. The fermentation process develops the good bacteria that help to build the bacteria colony in your gut (which I heard likened to a second brain in a TED Talk recently). If you have a well developed bacteria colony in your gut, you are able to obtain maximum nutrition from the foods you eat during the digestion process which may enable your body to fight illness because it's not lacking in nutrition. I think this is what has kept us from getting sick.
You can find lacto fermented kimchi (and other products) in the refrigerated section of most health food stores, but they are very expensive. I think they're so costly because they need to remain refrigerated and cannot sit in hot warehouses or trucks. At least that's the only reason for the high price that I can come up with because they're extremely inexpensive to make yourself. For this recipe I add the kimchi at the last moment after the greens have been wilted to just heat it through so as not to kill the good bacteria with high heat. It's best to prep everything before you start cooking because the dish goes quickly once you start adding things to the pan.
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 small onion (any color), diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
10-12 mushrooms (crimini, button or shiitake work well), diced
White or black pepper to taste
1 lb. firm or extra firm tofu, crumbled to look like scrambled eggs with your fingers
1 Tbsp. fermented Korean bean paste or chile garlic paste
2 1/2 Tbsp. shoyu or tamari
1/2-1 c. Kimchi, home made or store bought
5-6 leaves kale (or other green), thinly chopped
1) Slice the vegetables and have them ready to add. Rinse the tofu and pat it dry. Preheat the sesame oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
2) Add the scallions, onions and diced stalks of your greens (if you're using a hearty green like kale, collards, gai lan or broccoli) and onions and a bit of white or black pepper. Toss to combine and let the onions cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
3) Add the tofu by crumbling it with your fingers into the pan and toss to combine. let the mixture cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, then add the mushrooms, toss and cook for another 3 minutes.
4) Add the fermented Korean bean paste (or chile garlic paste) and shoyu or tamari and toss it around to dissolve the paste into the scramble and coat everything with the sauce.
5) Add the greens and cook until wilted (kale or gai lan will take longer than spinach or watercress).
6) Once the greens have just wilted add the minced kimchi and toss to combine everything well. Remove from the heat once the kimchi is warmed and serve.
This serves 4 and looks nice garnished with black or tan sesame seeds and minced fresh chives.