Note from Shannon: Please welcome Janet Creasy, CFH Content Contributor and Cultured Kitchen-Keeper.
Health claims about soy abound. Being mostly a vegetarian, I do believe there are many health benefits of soy but I am leery of the myriad products that contain processed soy. Therefore, ingesting the whole food always makes the most sense to me.
Looking for options to expand my soy diet, I did some research into the Asian culture and found some foods that I was not well apprised of: natto, tempeh and the more common tofu. Thankfully, the amazing folks at Cultures for Health carry some great soy cultures that helped me in my quest for preparing, cooking and eating in a more healthy fashion.
Let’s explore some of the ways in which you can eat soy (fermented or not).
Natto has long been recognized as one of Japan’s most unique traditional health foods. Natto’s natural enzyme, Nattokinase creates a sticky, some would say, smelly substance that results from the fermentation. It’s taste and texture is a unique one and may take some getting used to on its own but I do like it used in recipes that also contain kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage). Another use for Natto is added to a simple concoction of stir-fried rice, egg, onions, soy sauce and seaweed as a favorite lunch meal.
Tempeh (pronounced Tem-pay) is a food consisting of none other than soybeans that have molded. It sounds less-than-fabulous I realize, but it really is a great treat that you can use in many dishes as a complete protein. Tempeh is an Indonesian word that refers to beans (usually soybeans) bound together by a white Rhizopus and molded into compact cakes. Here is a recipe that is easy and satisfying for lunch or dinner.
Tofu was first used in China over 2000 years ago. Also called “bean curd”, it is a fresh, cheese-like product make by curding soymilk. The picture above is a simple recipe for Tofu Pate that resembles egg salad.
Dabble in something new and enjoy the adventure with SOY!