Dulse & Brose Savoury oatmeal with a medicinal miso twist
Savoury porridge is gaining mainstream esteem! Growing up in rural Scotland I ate a very traditional farm-to-table diet. Oats & pulse are both very traditional, nutritious Scottish ingredients. Dulse is Scotlands forgotten superfood: Seaweed - or Palmaria palmata, a red alga, to be specific. Dulse is mainly found in high-latitude coastal areas, and is popular as a food and a source of minerals. Scotland at one time had coveted nutritional status & was commonly used to add flavour to dishes. Brose is a Scottish term used meaning broth but commonly used to describe a liquid oatmeal porridge. This recipe combines both oats and dulse with a deep umami savouriness from the shiitake & miso.
I buy my favourite hand-harvested Scottish Mara Seaweed which is a beautiful heathery purple in colour & I default to my favourite Scottish sprouted oats. Sprouting is a traditional method to make grains more digestible (alternatively pre-soak them). Soaking & sprouting methods make the nutrients much more bioavailable & reduce the anti-nutrient properties. What is an anti-nutrient? Plant based products contain variable amounts of ‘anti-nutrients’ designed to protect the plant. These are normally tolerated well by humans but can be an issue when eaten in large amounts of in those with underlying health concerns. Oats are my favourite but barley, rice, farro, millet or a combination will work well in this next-level immune nourishing bowl. Whichever you choose, the key is to simmer gently. Mushrooms have a flavour and texture that is highly amenable to whatever they are eaten with but also contain a delectable taste all of their own. Not only a culinary addition to many dishes, the research on the health benefits of mushrooms are just as compelling (see below).
Sea salt & black pepper
Brown rice miso paste
Fresh local free range organic egg
Water (or chicken stock)
Combine oats, salt & pepper, dulse and 2½ cups water (or chicken stock) in a saucepan over medium-high. Once bubbling, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the water has been absorbed and oats are al dente. Stir in miso and tamari. Remove from heat.
While oats cook, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, garlic and onions; cook 3 minutes, stirring often, until softened. Stir mushroom mixture into oats.
Divide oats evenly into bowls. Top evenly with spring onion and add a poached egg to each. Drizzle evenly with olive oil and top with more dulse.
This recipe is rich in complex polysaccharide fibre compounds called beta-glucans - specialised immune nourishing polysaccharide compounds found in oats & mushrooms. They activate some of our anti-microbial immune defence cells (NK, T & B cell and macrophages), making them more aggressive against infection & boost levels of stimulatory mediators (interleukin-1 & -2). The structure of Beta-glucans makes it possible for them to attach to key bacteria-eating immune cells called macrophages & enhance formation of free-radicals that destroy bacteria. Beta-glucans are even considered to enhance the effects of antibiotics. Perhaps the most promising evidence to date in human trials has come from recent studies on a benefit of beta-glucans on quality of life and survival when given in combination with cancer treatment. Oats are one source of beta-glucans which have been shown to have immune-stimulating activity of bacteria eating macrophages & increasing the amounts of antibody in the blood reducing susceptibility to infection.
For centuries, people around the world have turned to mushrooms for a healthy immune system. Contemporary researchers now know why. Indeed many of our most valuable medications are in fact fungal in origin. Predominantly attributed to their specific type of potent beta-glucans (different to those in oats). We don’t need a lot but it’s a really important immune-nourishing part of the diet. Mushrooms are nutritious not only because of beta-glucan but they have a wide array of nutrients including fibre, iron, copper, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin D (only non-animal based source – tip place your mushrooms upside down on a window sill to up the vitamin D content). And that’s just the standard culinary mushrooms. ‘Medicinal’ or sometime known as ‘functional’ mushrooms also have very specific compounds with over 130 known medicinal functions, including immune-modulating, antioxidant, radical scavenging, cardiovascular, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-parasitic, antifungal effects. Shiitake, maitake & reishi mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch & are among the most well studied. But there are many more, less well studied varieties. The king is probably chaga (anti-inflammatory due to its abundant anti-oxidants) and then Lions mane (cognition), sports performance (cordyceps), turkey tail. For this recipe I specifically chose shiitake which have a long history of traditional use for fighting infection when your immune system is below par.
An edible anti-inflammatory, dulse is a great source of Iodine, potassium, magnesium & iron & its anti-inflammatory effects are attributed to the combined effect of phycobiliprotein & chlorophyll. Phycobiliprotein is effective at inhibiting histamine release and leukotriene biosynthesis (which drive inflammation associated with allergic disease).