Improving Flavor to Redeem Foods: Kimchi, Anchovies, and Veggies

Flavor- textBe willing to experiment.
Olive oil and salt can make almost anything taste good.
See what happens when you put your ingredients on a sheet pan or in a skillet.
Try something new before you discard unspoiled food.
Onions quickly sautéed and then salted are delicious in almost everything.

I struggled with what to call this post. It began with a fairly expensive jar of kimchi I didn’t like that sat untouched in my refrigerator.

There are hundreds of styles of kimchi–my favorites are very spicy, with narrowly chopped cabbage and lots of different flavors in the ferment–a tart, spicy, wet slaw that I routinely combine with my hard boiled eggs. Total perfection. Fun to eat and filling with 12-14 grams of protein from the eggs. The new kimchi I bought was boring, chunky, and overly soggy.

I knew I should be grown up enough to just eat it, but I couldn’t, nor would I throw it away. Americans discard an alarming amount of unspoiled food (well over 30% if you include restaurants, homes, and grocery stores). Very sad.

Flavor- AnchoviesLast week I decided to do something with that jar. My idea was to roast the kimchi on a sheet pan to dry it out (maybe the probiotics might not survive but the cabbage would still be good for me) and then mask the unappealing taste and texture with some really flavorful protein and make a meal out of it. My solution was anchovies, little cans of which I keep on hand for dressings or sauces.  Why not? They are inexpensive and I’d only need one (less than $2.00), so it was worth a try. Plus anchovies are packed with super healthy omega-3s and we should all eat more of them.   FYI– anchovies taste mostly like deep-flavored salt when mixed into other foods, give them a try; every good Caesar salad dressing usually includes anchovies.

To partially mellow out the new stronger taste I was sure to have created, I added a neutral and on-the-sweet-side veggie, carrots. Now I had spicy, salty, strong flavors, but with the familiar taste of sweet little bits of orange distributed throughout (I diced two carrots in my Cuisinart in less than a minute). The sheet pan lacked a green and a crumbly crunch, so I tossed in a handful of chopped kale during the last 10 minutes of roasting.

Success–it made a tasty, healthy lunch. The entire pan was eaten within an hour, half by a friend and half by me. A perfectly balanced meal and the first time I’d eaten anchovies in months.

Note: Cooking is about experimentation. No two chefs use all the same techniques or ingredients, which means there is no right or wrong way to cook something.

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