Sunday, January 13, 2013

Unfunking Quinoa


Quinoa smells/tastes funky to me; there's some kind of metallic twang to it. And it's not just me. I know, I know, it's a superfood, and a complete protein, and eating it gives you x-ray vision and telepathy. But for me it's just unpleasant to eat, unless you somehow deal with the funny flavor.

As those links above will tell you, though, there are a number of things you can try:
  • washing it before you cook it,
  • soaking it for a while or overnight before you cook it, 
  • cooking it with a soup base of some sort (chicken stock, pork stock, vegetable stock, etc.) instead of plain water, or
  • toasting it
I have to say, except for using chicken and pork stock to steam (only mitigates the flavor issue a little), I haven't tried any of the others (will do in the future; soaking sounds promising). But, I'll add another one to the list: stir-frying it after steaming it (alright, this is kinda like the toasting technique). Of course, you still need to season the quinoa, but the quinoa and bean stir-fry I made was excellent. Deliciously earthy with a nice, fluffy-with-crisp-bits texture. On the other hand, I stir-fried it in pork fat, which generally makes everything taste better.

This was one of those on-the-spot experiments of mine, though, from the Middle Eastern influenced chickpeas and red beans to the subsequent stir-frying with the quinoa. As such, unfortunately, I didn't keep good track of the exact proportions of ingredients. I'll have to come back with a recipe in another post.

But--I can point you to what made the chickpeas Middle Eastern, which is a new seasoning combination to me and a nice discovery: Za'atar. Here are a few recipes, each with slight variations in proportions and what the herb is besides the universal sumac, sesame seeds, and salt. So basically, the exact proportion doesn't seem to be critical, but similar amounts of each, and less salt than the other ingredients.

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