Sour Millet – A Recipe from The Everyday Fermentation Handbook by Branden Byers
Today I’m going to share a fun and easy go-to recipe from The Everyday Fermentation Handbook. Byers and his publisher have kindly offered a copy of this book for giveaway, and you can enter on the post I wrote about that! As I mentioned the recipes in this book strolls the line, from quick and straight forward to straight up project. This one falls under labor-free heading and makes a right good meal.
A few things you should know here: yes, you’re cooking the food which kills the probiotic bacteria (and yes, you need to cook the millet to make it edible), but there are still important benefits. In addition to making the grains taste ah-maze-ing, soaking them is important for digestion. Followers of many grain-free diets will know that phytic acid is present in grains, nuts, seeds and some other plant matter as well. It binds up nutrients, especially minerals, and prevents us from digesting them among other things. Long term, this is very bad and can lead to mineral deficiencies that in turn slow your metabolism, give you fatigue and all other kinds of health crap you definitely do not want to deal with.
The good news is that fermentation eradicates phytic acid and by soaking your grains, nuts and seeds, you make them more healthful and digestible and you make the other nutrients you’re consuming more absorbable as well. Yippee! There is a TON of speculation on this topic out there and also quite a bit of solid science. If you want to know more than I do, google “phytic acid” and head down the linky rabbit hole!
This recipe calls for cracking the grain, which you can do by pulsing it in the food processor or, if you like to workout while you cook, crushing it with a mortar and pestle. Cracking the grain makes the sugars more available to the microbes, thus promoting fermentation. I’ve found you don’t have to do a ton of cracking, but it certainly does help!
SOUR MILLET RECIPE
Serves 4, Adapted from The Everyday Fermentation Handbook by Branden Byers
What I love about this recipe is that it showcases a technique that can be used for a lot of other foods. That is typical of this book. It is packed full of ideas and techniques that will get you thinking and fermenting! Branden’s original recipe is a lovely mix of veggies and this millet. I used the veggies I had on hand, and you should feel free to do the same. Think of this as a tasty porridge that can serve as the base for just about anything you crave. I haven’t tried it with baking spices and dried fruits and nuts yet, but I think that would work well especially with a shorter fermentation. You can ferment this for 1-10 days, per the author, but remember that it will get increasingly sour the longer you ferment it, so think about your added ingredients when you decide how long to let it ferment. If you choose to ferment it for longer than 4 days, you’ll need to stir the water at least daily. If you notice the water turning grey, you’ll want to change it out for fresh water.
For the millet bowl
- 1 cup/200 g millet
- water for soaking
- 2 cups/500 ml water for cooking
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and minced
- 1/2 bunch lacinato (dinosaur) kale, cut into ribbons
- 4 carrots, sliced into thin rounds
- Kimchi or spicy sauerkraut for garnish (optional)
For condiment sauce
- 1/4 cup/60 ml soy sauce
- 1/4 cup/60 ml sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- dash of fish sauce (optional)
- Crack your grains as described above. If you find pre-cracked millet, you can skip this step.
- Put them in a bowl and cover with water. They won’t expand much, but I like top the millet off with an inch of water to be safe from evaporation and absorption.
- Allow the millet to soak, covered but not sealed, at room temperature for 1-10 days, depending on how sour you want it. I did a four day soak for this recipe.
- Drain your millet and put it in a large saucepan, add water and cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn’t clump.
- Add the minced garlic and shallot when most of the water is absorbed. Continue stirring.
- Once all of the water is absorbed and the texture of the millet is soft and somewhat like porridge, turn off the heat and stir in the remaining raw vegetables.
- Allow the mixture to sit and the flavors to meld while you mix together the ingredients for the condiment sauce.
- Serve warm in bowls and add condiment sauce and kimchi as needed for seasoning.
Note: you can replace the cooking water (NOT the soaking water) with broth if you’d like a more richly flavored final product. Just make sure to cut back on the soy sauce in the sauce if your broth has salt in it.