As we face a new year, do you find yourself wondering what the new trends will be? What’s going to be “in” when it comes to technology, fashion, makeup, reads, fitness…? Trends are something that constantly evolve and come with a tremendous amount of hype and obsession (I am guilty of this). Food is no exception.
In regards to predicted food trends, one that I’m glad to see stick around is the “eat local” movement. We, the consumers, want to know where and how our food is grown, and rightfully we should. As long as there’s a demand, local foods and farmers markets will continue to thrive. We are what we eat, so let’s stuff our bellies with the freshest and the most flavorful foods that nature has to offer!
When I read that vegetables will take center stage this year, I leapt for joy! What’s going to be the next kale? As you may have noticed, kale was all the rage last year, and if you didn’t hop on the kale train, there are tons of recipes out there to entice you. Just like kale, other vegetables wait eagerly in anticipation of being discovered and newfound stardom. Perhaps it’s time for komatsuna, a Japanese mustard spinach (I had to look this up, as I’d never heard of it before). The name sounds quite fancy, I must say. It turns out it’s in the same species as the turnip and can be eaten raw, stir-fried, sauteed, steamed, braised, pickled or added to soups. It’s versatile just like kale. My interest is piqued, and I can’t wait to try it! Additionally, cauliflower is expected to be the next “breakout star” and will pop up more on restaurant menus. How do “Roasted Cauliflower Steaks” sound to you?
Vegetables will also make their appearance in desserts and cocktails. Maple parsnip cake, pumpkin cayenne gelato, cucumber martini, miso mule (which is served at Bar Congress here in Austin…I shall be sipping on this soon)…just a few to tickle your curiosity. If you want to read more about the new innovative cocktails, check out this post by Food and Wine.
Asian foods are also expected to be extremely popular this year. Although I think that they already are ;). Shall we call it the year of the noodle? Ramen noodles will take off, as they’ve gotten a whole new makeover from their previous msg and sodium-laden selves to flavorful and healthful varieties. Watch out! Soba, udon, and rice noodles are going mainstream! 😉
In terms of flavors, sour is the new salty this year. Think beyond Sour Patch Kids. Pickled vegetables, anyone? Especially noteworthy is kimchi. We’ve started to see kimchi gain popularity this past year, as fusion food has really taken off. Innovative ways to incorporate kimchi (kimchi burgers, pizzas, tacos, and hotdogs) are being seen in restaurants and in homes, and there’s no sign of slowing down. As a Korean who takes her kimchi very seriously, I couldn’t be more proud and excited ;).
I grew up eating kimchi, but I wasn’t aware of all the amazing health benefits associated with it. Last semester, for one of my assignments in Food Biotechnology, we had to come up with a “patentable invention” using biotechnology. I “invented” a probiotic yogurt containing a cholesterol-lowering strain of lactic acid bacteria isolated from kimchi.
Why did I think this was an innovative invention? The average Korean adult consumes about 50-200g of kimchi per day and easily gains the health benefits that these probiotics have to offer. As kimchi is not commonly found in the diets of other people around the world, by isolating its specific favorable strains and incorporating them into a commonly consumed product, such as yogurt, many more consumers would have the opportunity to gain the health benefits associated with consumption of these strains. I had a lot of fun with this assignment
While researching, I realized that discovering the health benefits of kimchi is an active area of research. Kimchi is an excellent source of vitamins (most notably vitamins A, B, and C), minerals (calcium, iron, potassium) and dietary fiber.
The greatest benefit is in the “good bacteria,” or lactobacilli. To put it into perspective, there are more than 200 kinds of kimchi, and over 2000 strains of lactic acid bacteria have been isolated from these various types. Various health claims have been made, such as anti-oxidative activity, cancer prevention, cholesterol-lowering effects, and my personal favorite – anti-aging effects.
So in light of The Recipe Redux challenge for this month, which was to create a recipe using a favorite food trend and adding it to a pot, it is time to introduce my Slow-Cooker Kimchi Pork Tenderloin recipe. Let us all eat more kimchi!!
- 2 whole pork tenderloins
- 3 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce
- 3 Tbs green onion, chopped
- 2 Tbs garlic, minced
- 1 Tbs brown sugar
- 1 Tbs sesame oil
- 1 tsp ginger, grated
- 2 cups of kimchi
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken stock
- Clean tenderloin. Make sure to remove all the silverskin. Sear sides of meat before putting into slow cooker to give the dish an incredible depth of flavor and a gorgeous color. Place meat in slow cooker.
- In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, green onion, garlic, brown sugar, sesame oil, and ginger. Pour over and rub into meat. Add kimchi and chicken stock.
- Close the lid. Cook for 6 hours on low.
- Serve with rice. Can add to noodle dishes, sandwiches, salads, quesadillas, tacos, casseroles...
Honestly, I was a bit nervous about this recipe. I’ve never cooked kimchi in a slow cooker before, but I thought, why not? I wasn’t sure if the ratio of all the ingredients would work out, as my main concern was that it may turn out too salty, mainly due to the kimchi. I braced myself for a failure, but once again, I was reminded of how forgiving crockpot meals are! Everything turns into prize after a slow and steady simmer. I love you, crockpot! And I love you, kimchi!!
And the best part about dishes like these is that you’re stuck with leftovers that you can transform into many different meals to come. In this case, let’s make some fusion panini!
I tell ya, kimchi and cheese were meant for each other. I used cheddar cheese but any kind will work. As for the bread, garlic sourdough immediately caught my attention at the bakery. You can never have enough garlic in my opinion ;).
If you have 5 minutes, you can make this. Place kimchi pork tenderloin and a generous amount of cheese between two pieces of hearty bread, and grill the panini using a panini maker (one of my fav kitchen appliances!!) or heavy nonstick frying pan or stovetop griddle. If using the pan or griddle, be sure to place something really heavy on top to press down the panini. When the bread is nicely toasted boasting a golden brown color and the cheesy has melted, you’re done! Serve with a side of soup or salad and you’ve got yourself a meal.
When I served this to Tim, he immediately exclaimed, “mmm…what is this deliciousness?” “I can totally imagine eating this at a restaurant.” I felt so happy that I had to write down (yes I did) his exact words to remember the moment. This recipe is def a keeper!
For other recipes with kimchi or dishes that can accompany it, check out some of my previous posts.