The super food experiment.
When my Canberra-based runner friend Dhitri first wrote about her dabble in the kitchen with this curious seed called quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) I was intrigued. Quinoa is touted as being a super food, especially if you’re into running or sports. Why? Runner’s World UK website states: “It has more fibre and nearly twice as much protein as brown rice, and the proteins it has consist of a near-perfect blend of amino acids, so that your body can easily break them down and turn them into muscle.”
You are sold too, right?
So what’s a curious amateur cook and runner to do? Why, try cooking up quinoa and hopefully a side dish that would complement it well, of course!
I managed to find this brown variety in the organic dry products section at the super market near my house, it was RM17.90 (USD5.75 at the time of this writing) for a 500 gram bag. As suggested by Dhitri, I used my rice cooker. But before that I rinsed it out, and then put 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water and let it cook till it puffs out. True enough to literature, the aroma of cooked quinoa was nutty, almost reminded me of buah berangan (chestnuts) being roasted.
I decided to have the quinoa with a salmon dish – so I baked some with lemon, red onions and peppers, chillies, seasoned simply with salt and pepper, then made a butter lemon caper sauce to top it off – it is based on this wonderful recipe. I also cut up some salad to go with the quinoa and salmon combo for my greens.
My verdict? I just found the perfect meal for when I’m in the mood for exotic flavor! The nuttiness of the quinoa worked well with the sour tangy salmon dish. I also learned that you didn’t need to eat a lot of quinoa to feel full, which is great. Less than a fistful was enough for me.
Needless to say I have made this dish on more than 1 occasion since it’s so simple to prepare and is so delicious. Plus I need to find an excuse to have the quinoa with!
The next day of my experiment I decided to eat up the leftover quinoa as a cereal for breakfast. I didn’t have much to garnish it with save for kiwis, raisins and some yogurt (I was inspired by Dhitri’s take on it – she had it with berries, yogurt and a dash of cinnamon).
I took a bite and chewed through. The taste of quinoa and yogurt together was a bit on the rich side for me so I took a bit longer than expected to finish my portion. What saved me was the tangy kiwi and sweet raisins.
So what’s my take on this South American staple? I like it, though I much preferred the quinoa as a savory dish rather than a sweet morning meal, at least for this brown variety. But don’t take my word for it – try it yourself!
Just a word of caution, make sure you store the cooked leftover quinoa promptly in the fridge if you’re not going to eat it since it’s high in essential fats it will spoil and go rancid (basi) if left out.
I don’t have quinoa often, just once in a while when I feel like having my baked salmon. Rice, pasta and bread are still my main sources of carbs – for now. I am curious however to try another variety of quinoa (the lighter-colored one) if I can ever find it here. But let me finish my 500 gram bag of brown quinoa first! 🙂
Trivia: 1/2 cup (100g) of this brown variety of quinoa contains 140 calories.