With seemingly less and less meaningful time, especially for those locked in, snacking after dark is becoming more and more appealing, writes Charlotte Muru-Lanning.
There is something enchanting about eating late at night. For me, the kai at this point feels liberating because it is outside the conventions of the usual and accepted meal slots: breakfast in the morning, lunch at noon, and dinner in the evening. When you eat deep into the night – rather than eating because you should – you are fulfilling your basic desires, an immediate craving for something sweet, salty, umami, or oily.
Studies suggested that our internal circadian rhythms increase our appetite and cravings for sweet, starchy and salty foods in the evening. This was useful historically – it helped our ancestors store more energy and increased their chances of surviving when food was scarce.
After establishing that late night snacking is in our DNA, what should we be eating? TikTok and YouTube are full of cheerful midnight snack recipes like chewy pancakes, fried jalapeÃ±o poppers, or even platters of perfectly seared salmon resting on roasted veggies. In the real world, however, I’m a firm believer that midnight snacks shouldn’t require sifting, whipping, mixing, or more steps than I can count on one hand.
Think of any scene from a movie that includes a midnight snack. These are bowls of super-sweet cereal, slices of cold pizza, or white bread covered with a thick layer of Hellman’s mayonnaise. Or, more arguably, especially around the time of Covid-19, swallowing milk straight from the bottle.
As one very insightful YouTube commentator wrote in response to a compilation of frustrating and frustrating videos of midnight snack recipes: âI don’t feel like shooting a Gordon Ramsay at 2amâ. Inspired by this wise commentator, here are some deeply unimpressive but nonetheless honest ideas for when you have those inevitable late-night cravings.
Letting the rice cook in a steamer gives you the perfect time to put on your pajamas, wash your face, put on a face mask (the kind of beauty treatment), and do whatever else you need to do to end the day. When you get back to your perfectly cooked rice, eat it with soy sauce, sesame oil, Kewpie mayo, or Lao Gan Ma chili sauce. You can even top it with a fried egg or a spam, or a pinch of bonito flakes if you need a little more depth. If you have leftover rice in the fridge, a bowl of fried rice takes very little effort. In its most basic form, you’ll want garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and eggs, but other additions are always welcome.
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It’s the realm of yogurt, ice cream and those wonderful microwave-steamed puddings. Pottles are a late-night foodie’s best friend, with the added bonus that you only need a spoon to eat them.
Grilled sandwiches, cheese on toast or quesadillas all taste particularly magical at night, eaten asleep in your pajamas. But bread-based dinners don’t have to be just savory. Slices of brioche or challah bread stuffed with chocolate and marshmallows might be the best after dark dessert I’ve ever had. Whether you fancy sweet or savory, a grilled sandwich at your back. Not in the mood for cheese? A non-dairy snack that’s as delicious as it is easy is a spring onion pancake. You will find packages of them in the frozen section of Asian supermarkets. No defrosting needed – all they need is fry on each side in a skillet. Another great option: take note of Nigella Lawson and make yourself a cold fish sandwich straight out of the fridge.
It’s always helpful to keep a variety of instant ramen on hand (Ottogi spicy ramen jin, Samyang Carbo, Mie Goreng barbecue chicken, and Nissin Kyushu black garlic ramen are on a high rotation for my meals at dusk. ). And there’s a bewildering array of ways to upgrade a bundle, depending on your mood. Choose from miso, soy sauce, egg, Kewpie mayo, minced garlic, sriracha, Peanut Butter, sausage, greens, seaweed leaves, kimchi, mushrooms, pickled ginger, Lao Gan Ma, Sesame oil, Butter, tteokbokki rice cakes, garlic powder, tomato sauce, onion, coconut milk, canned corn, Milk, chinkiang vinegar, chili oil or cheese. And that’s just to start.
Or of course you can just follow the instructions on the back of the package.
In 2021, the things we do and the things we eat are much less bound by time and place than before. Just six years ago, McDonald’s Aotearoa offered a separate menu for breakfast and the rest of the day. You couldn’t order buns after 10:30 am, and you couldn’t order a burger for breakfast. When I was a teenager, the idea of ââgetting delivered to McDonald’s or eating their hash browns for dinner was literally the stuff of my dreams. Now I can order a single McMuffin at my doorstep at 11pm if I feel like it.
Meanwhile, it seems for many of us that our unhealthy fixation on work has crept into our approach to cooking and eating. Household appliances like dishwashers and stand mixers, which are sold to us under the pretext of making things easier, have at the same time prompted us to try increasingly complex and time-consuming dishes.
But eating after dark doesn’t necessarily involve unnecessary work. While some might enjoy a methodical after-dinner cooking session, it might be good for us to take the opportunity to put down the electric mixer, eat a serving of leftover Pad Thai straight from the fridge, and let ourselves even laze around. so just for a moment.
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