THE GOCHISO GOURMET: Boosting breakfast


columnist-logo_ryantatsumoto_FINALBecause workday mornings aren’t paced at leisure, especially when awakening just south of 4 a.m., my workday breakfasts are primarily created to get me to lunch without that mid-morning stomach rumbling or grumbling. Thus, I have the same old breakfast, Coach’s oatmeal from Costco, mixed with Bran Buds and dried cranberries microwaved for two minutes, then left to cool in front of a fan along with a full cup of strong cold-brewed black coffee. I have this literally every workday. Then one morning, the nutritionist in me realized that I should also include a bit of protein to get that noggin activated — since carbs tend to put you in a stupor — so I added some leftover poke to my oatmeal. However, poke isn’t a regular refrigerator standby on most days, and it IS very expensive for a daily protein source, so I initially turned to those flavored Blue Diamond almonds. Plus, these are relatively expensive, and I read somewhere that almonds require quite a bit of water, which isn’t environmentally sound, especially when the Golden State occasionally experiences those water shortages. So I think I finally have the solution: Beans. Specifically dried legumes, which are cheap, especially when purchased in bulk. The main drawback, though, is the time required to soak and cook the beans. But the soaking can be done overnight while I’m sleeping and the cooking time is a breeze when using either a thermal cooker or pressure cooker! The Humble Bean I’ve waxed poetic on multiple occasions about the benefits and versatility of the legume’s inherent nutritional value, its versatility of being either a delicious side dish or main course and the culinary powerhouse’s cost effectiveness. I’ve even waxed not-so-poetically about the delightful musical side effects of the legume. But sometimes, it’s as simple as fortifying my daily breakfast with additional protein. I initially started with that ultimate protein-packed legume that requires days to prepare, the lupini bean. Second in protein just to the versatile soybean, but number one in preparation time to consume, I previously discussed the lupini bean about a year ago. Sure, you can find pre-processed bottled lupini beans at gourmet markets, but you’ll pay a premium for the processing that some factory performed. Or you can purchase dried lupini and soak them twice a day for a week or so, boiling them several times in between to remove all of the bitter alkaloids that supposedly are toxic if consumed in large amounts. Wives in Italy supposedly once left the beans in bags in running rivers for several days to purge them of the bitter alkaloids. Or you can simply soak and drain them for two days like I initially did, before realizing that the bitterness in under processed lupini make bitter melon taste like a ripe strawberry. (It was so bitter and hard that I discarded the whole batch after sampling just a couple of beans.) Now that I know of the prolonged pre-processing time that’s required to make lupini edible, I’ll continue to occasionally prep and consume them, but probably not on a regular basis since it takes almost a week of preparation So, for the start of this year, I simply added kuromame to my breakfast, leftovers from a couple of the traditional osechi ryori dishes created for the New Year. After all, kuromame are soybeans, which are the most protein-packed bean in the legume family and the extra shoyu and sugar added during the cooking process allow it to keep longer into the new year. While it doesn’t require a week of preparation like lupini beans, dried kuromame aren’t cost effective by any stretch of the imagination, with a half-pound bag running about $3. But the legume that is cost effective and also available in bulk from the mega-marts is pinto beans. And while it only contains about 15 grams of protein per cup, versus soybean’s 28 grams per cup, it still contains quite a bit of soluble fiber — the type of fiber that reduces serum cholesterol — and the starches in beans like oatmeal have a low glycemic index meaning they won’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels after meals. I may be able to even replace the oatmeal with various cooked forms of beans. And while that may not sound like an appetizing breakfast to you, I am getting tired of that Coach’s Oats every morning. So, I decided that I’ll simply rotate the flavors, creating American “chili” beans with garlic, onions, tomatoes and chili powder; followed by the Middle East with onions, garlic, coriander, cumin and mint; then on the third week, another American classic in Boston baked beans with peppers, onions, molasses and brown sugar; and finishing with Indian flavors, featuring curry, ginger and garlic. I’ll also add garbanzo beans to the mix. If I can find affordable kuromame in bulk, I’ll even throw the traditional Japanese version in the morning rotation. In fact, I may even forego the traditional Coach’s Oats and have a full bowl of various bean preparations, as along with the additional protein it provides, it is also a good source of the same soluble fiber found in oatmeal, and its lower glycemic index means a slower release of glucose in the bloodstream, which prevents that dreaded post-carbohydrate bonk. It sounds like my morning weekday breakfast is about to change! But if consuming pinto beans for breakfast sounds a little too off-beat for you, how about sampling my Asian inspired take on those Middle-Eastern classic spreads, hummus and baba ghanoush? I combined the silky texture of pureed chickpeas, tahini and olive oil and the smoky flavors of fire roasted eggplant with smoked natto (fermented soybeans), azuki beans and sesame oil, along with traditional Japanese condiments like pickled ginger, pickled garlic and shiso. If you’re using the imported frozen natto, add those little flavor packets into the mix for additional flavor. If you don’t have a smoker, you can simply add one to two teaspoons of liquid smoke with the other seasonings. And for the first time, this recipe is also running simultaneously in the February edition of the Hawai‘i Herald in the 50th! Natto-mus One three ounce tub of Aloha Tofu natto (for readers in the 50th) or one three pack of imported frozen natto (for readers in the Bay Area), spread on a wire strainer and smoked for 45 minutes
Natto-mus. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto
1 cup dried azuki beans, soaked overnight then simmered for one hour 7 pickled garlic bulbs 2 tbsp gari (light pink, pickled, thinly sliced ginger served with sushi) 1 tbsp beni shoga (dark pink strips of pickled ginger) smoked for 30 minutes 1 tbsp sesame oil 1 tbsp shoyu 1 tbsp Shiso Fumi furikake Rice crackers Garnishes: sliced pickled ginger, beni shoga, finely sliced fresh shiso leaves Place garlic and gingers in a food processor and run until they are finely minced. Add the azuki and natto and run until it forms a creamy paste. Finally, add the sesame oil, shoyu and shiso furikake until well incorporated. You can either add more shoyu or shiso furikake if it requires more salt. Serve on the rice crackers garnished with beni shoga, sliced pickled garlic or fresh shiso. The Gochiso Gourmet is a column on food, wine and healthy eating. Ryan Tatsumoto is a graduate of both the University of Hawai‘i and UC San Francisco. He is a clinical pharmacist during the day and a budding chef/recipe developer/wine taster at night. He writes from Kane‘ohe, HI and can be reached at

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