Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Adventures in yogurt and natto making

I find myself eating a lot of yogurt lately and the cost was starting to add up. If you want to buy unsweetened plain yogurt, it's about 2,000 won for 4 servings. The price isn't outrageous, but if you plan on eating 1-2 per day it adds up. I wasn't too bothered about the price to be honest, actually, but my boyfriend found a yogurt maker online for about 18,000 won on G-Market and thought we should give it a try.
The yogurt maker has become our new obsession. We make a new batch every few days. It's quite easy if you've never made it. Actually, you don't really need a "yogurt maker" per se, to make yogurt, all a yogurt maker does is keep your milk at a steady temperature so that the yogurt culture can grow and multiply.  Just (sterilely) add some pre-made yogurt with active cultures into a carton of milk and let it sit around 41-49˚C It only takes about 8 hours to turn milk into yogurt but we leave it in for up to 24 hours to get the strongest taste.

Some websites will show you very complicated ways of making it, raising the temperature of the milk, lowering the temperature of the milk, using thermometers and all sorts of things, which you would probably need if you didn't have a yogurt maker I guess. But with this simple machine a carton of milk fits perfectly inside and keeps it at a constant temperature which makes all that extra stuff unnecessary.

We've experimented with a few flavors for the yogurt. The best is the 복분자, popunja which is a raspberry extract. While most people know 복분자 as alcohol, that's just another form (and a dangerous one at that...)

Another one I've tried is adding dried cranberries I picked up at E-mart. Actually, since they are dried, they don't really give any flavor, but I just like cranberries.

Another discovery we've made is freezing it to make frozen yogurt. It only takes about 1/2 an hour to freeze solid so it can be prepared not long before eating. The purple color is the 복분자.

Now, there's something else that can be made in a yogurt maker, though people may not be as familiar with this one as they are with yogurt. Have you heard of natto? It's a fermented bean product from Japan. It's usually made with soybeans but we've been experimenting with various types of beans with mixed results (the worst being when my boyfriend used dried peas claiming they were beans because the Korean word for pea is 완두콩 wandukong, kong meaning bean. They are in fact not beans, and they in fact make really repulsive natto in case you were planning on trying). Many westerners would be turned off by the strong smell and strange stringy consistency of natto, but it has become a bit of an obsession for me. I've always enjoyed beans and this makes an excellent breakfast food. Alas, this one is even more expensive than the yogurt, about 5,000 won for 6 or worse, 2,500 for 2. You can get 3 for a dollar in Japan. Which makes me look forward to my upcoming trip to Japan in December :-)

So, now that I've peaked your interest in making natto you'll find that it is a little more involved than the yogurt. First you have to hydrate the beans. usually we soak them for a while then put them in our high pressure rice cooker for a few more hours.

Next is adding previously made natto to start the culture growing.

Next, you just put it in the yogurt maker for at least 24 hours (though we've been doing 36-48 hours lately) Then it's ready to eat! Make sure it's nice and stringy!

And this isn't natto or yogurt and has nothing to do with . It's my homemade guacamole. I found 2 avocados for 2,500 won on the clearance shelf at E-mart and had to buy them since it's nearly impossible to get reasonably priced avocados in this country. So, I just mashed it up with onion, tomato and a splash of lime juice and had this amazing concoction.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool. Anytime you cam make something yourself you're always better off!