Ferments are some of the most rewarding products to work with, whether cheese, bread, vinegars, etc. There is something particularly rewarding in nurturing, collaborating with another living creature. We were looking into ways of releasing more umami in our Nordic cuisine, especially after some of the research that we did in our seaweed project. A perusal of DTU’s excellent website www.foodcomp.dk lead us to a Scandinavian classic: yellow peas.
The peas were quite high in glutamic acid, and the question became how to convert the bound amino acids to unbound. Fermentation. We used a mold called Apergillus oryzae to inoculate steamed barley. This took a few attempts to perfect as it requires rather precise control over temperature and humidity, but we could use it to perform a slow, controlled fermentation of the cooked yellow peas. We decanted at a month to check progress- success. The resulting paste tastes of yellow peas, but amazingly more complex and deep, although slightly saline from the salt we added to check any infestation from interloping bacteria. The liquid was also great, with a flavor somehow more reminiscent of the barley. We will check the progress monthly.