I spent much of the last two years racing to get out of the house at 6 am to beat the LA traffic as I commuted the 25 miles to work. There was barely time to brush my hair and teeth, let alone eat breakfast before hitting the road. Instead I would have a graham cracker in the car to tide me over and then around 7:30 or so, have breakfast at work. While I’m willing to pack and bring a lunch every day, packing breakfast just wasn’t an option so I went with the meal of highest convenience, something you can keep in your desk drawer indefinitely. Oatmeal. Everyday. Oatmeal with craisins. Every single day. I longed to eat cereal, toast, anything but oatmeal.
So when we left the big city last June for a more relaxed suburban lifestyle, my old oatmeal habit quickly went out the door. Yes, I still have a stash in my desk at work- just in case! In case of what, I have no idea. In case the hospital’s three cafeterias all suddenly close and I’m unable to leave to get a meal elsewhere? In case for the first time in my life I forget to eat breakfast? Call it an irrational security blanket.
But for breakfast, our pantry is now stocked with all my favorite breakfast cereals- Shredded Wheat, Kashi Go-Lean Crunch, Honey Bunches of Oats, and so on. Enchanted with my return to cereal, I hadn’t touched our big tub of oats until Cheap Healthy Good‘s recent reminder about this Mark Bittman recipe for oatmeal with soy sauce and scallions. I remember when it first came out (on Bitten? in the New York Times food section?) and though I was a little skeeved by the thought of a savory oatmeal, the idea stuck with me. Maybe, just maybe, it was worth trying once, just out of curiosity.
With the recipe’s recent resurgence in my memory, I finally set aside my cereal bowl and tried it last week. And you know what? I LOVED it. Loved. Loved. Loved. Although I steadfastly maintain my allegiance as a sweet breakfast lover (as opposed to you savory, omelette-loving folk), this dish single-handedly renewed my interest in oatmeal and I made it twice that very first week. Only marginally slower than regular oatmeal, it is infinitely more interesting. Don’t even think about skipping the sesame oil as that’s what really makes it memorable. Enjoy!
Oatmeal with soy sauce and scallions (serves 1)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup water
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon scallions for stirring, 1 teaspoon for garnish
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1. Combine water, salt, and oats in a medium saucepan and turn the heat to high. When the water boils, turn to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the water is just about absorbed (about 5 minutes).
2. Turn off heat, stirring in 1 tablespoon of scallions and soy sauce while the pot cools down. Sprinkle that last teaspoon of scallions on top for extra crunch and drizzle with the sesame oil.