Saturday, April 5, 2014

I Double-Dog Dare You To Try It: Savory Oatmeal

I've been thinking about this concept for a while and yesterday I finally took the plunge and had my first bowl of savory oatmeal.  I grew up eating sweet oatmeal, topped with brown sugar and milk floating on top.  Since my re-discovery of oatmeal about 4-5 years ago, I've stayed with sweet oatmeal for breakfast and the occasional lunch. I do a lot more experimenting with fruits and seasonings though and it's always made completely from scratch, no instant packets here.  And a lot of the time what I make could be called porridge since it's not solely rolled oats, usually I mix it up with steel-cut oats, millet, bran, wheat germ, flax seed meal, buckwheat, quinoa, etc. 

But back to savory oatmeal.  I had never thought about eating savory oatmeal, the concept just never crossed my mind. But there's nothing inherent with oatmeal that makes it a sweet dish, it's neutral.  In my fanaticism for oatmeal, I check out any recipe I can find for oatmeal/porridge and I follow a few blogs (Oatgasm, Oatmeal Artist, etc.) that are solely about oatmeal.  Yep, I'm totally obsessed.   And in my explorations, I found mention of savory oatmeal.  Hmm... interesting idea.  And this Serious Eats post by Mark Bittman about savory oatmeal with scallions and soy sauce caused a big kefluffle.  Some people were absolutely disgusted, while others reminisced about the savory oatmeal dishes of their childhood.  And others, like me, were intrigued and willing to give it a shot.

Cooking It Up

For a few months I've thought about the concept and looked up recipes for inspiration, but yesterday I finally mustered up the courage to try it. I had several batches of pre-made plain oatmeal in the fridge, so if it was disgusting I had a fallback plan to throw out the gross experiment and try again with a sweet oatmeal or something from the pantry.  I didn't want to try this on a weekday morning for breakfast since it would take longer to make, so I whipped it up at home over my regular lunch hour at home.
My plan was to go with Asian flavors since we've got a lot of Asian ingredients (seasonings, sauces, etc.) and few other fresh ingredients.  I sauteed some sliced mushrooms, added some spinach, garlic and onion powder.  While that was cooking, I added soy sauce to the pre-cooked oatmeal until it tasted like the right amount and heated it up in the microwave.  I used a flat bowl (we call them pasta bowls) because I was going to add a soft-cooked egg on top. 
Mixing in soy sauce
I went back to the skillet and slid the mushrooms and spinach out of the way and cracked an egg in the middle.  I cooked it in my typical way, medium heat with the lid on for two minutes for a soft-cooked egg.  I slid all of that on top of the warmed up oatmeal and added some fresh black pepper and a sprinkle of salt since there wasn't much other seasoning.
I swear there's an egg under all that!


I liked it well enough, but my first attempt wasn't thrilling.  I had to add several more drizzles of soy sauce on top because I hadn't seasoned it much.  I was busy browsing Pinterest while eating so I wasn't paying too much attention, but I should have added some spicy Korean bean paste, miso, or sriracha for an additional layer of flavor.  I'd like to take another shot at savory oatmeal but try making it completely from scratch so I can season the oatmeal when it's cooking and adding more flavorful toppings. 

I do have to say that it was really filling.  I had only a little something else with lunch (don't remember what, but it wasn't much) and I was satisfied for the entire afternoon.

So I dare you to try savory oatmeal and let me know how it goes.  Here are some inspiring links from my bookmarks.
I could see a Mexican version working out really well with a bit of taco leftovers. I'm also in love with the simple combo of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and soft-cooked egg.   

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!