Make Oatmeal That Will Wake You Up

Make Oatmeal That Will Wake You Up

Blueberries, bananas, brown sugar, or other subtle sweets are typical partners for breakfast oats. This is fine, but leads me to oat-exhaustion almost immediately. I don’t get excited for sweet breakfasts; I need something savoury in the morning. Not just a little. I like umami to rattle my shoulders and wake me up. Oatmeal can absolutely kick arse if you give it powerful partners to work with, but oats, you need to take your hands off the wheel.

The idea that oatmeal has to be sweet is utter poppycock. I’ve added an egg (or just the egg yolk) to the mix, and given it the risotto treatment for a satisfying, savoury push. But it wasn’t until I tried the cheesy, savoury oatmeal with kimchi from The Kitchn’s James Park that I realised I could go a whole lot farther with my savoury oats. In fact, oats should just stop trying to be the main event. They don’t have to be the bulk of the dish. Instead of making a bowl that’s 90% oatmeal and 10% savoury garnishes, I rebalanced the scales to for a ratio that’s closer to 50/50.

I fried up crumbled sausage with sambal. I brought out the kimchi. I steamed an egg, chopped coriander, scallions and fresh ginger, and took out my container of fried garlic. My partner walked into the room and immediately commented, “What smells so good?” He was fully confused when I said I was making oatmeal–oatmeal had never smelled like this before. I boiled my rolled oats with a cube of chicken bullion (there’s no reason to waste a flavour opportunity), and assembled a glorious meal I could look forward to.

This was a bowl of oatmeal that was not just flavorful and salty, but one that absolutely obliterated all oat-norms. The half-cup of oatmeal took on a supporting role, propping up every spoonful of egg, sausage, and garlic, and providing a little relief from the growing heat of the sambal. One thought that never once crossed my mind? “This is mushy and bland.”

To build a bowl of oatmeal that’ll kick your arse awake, grab ingredients you would put on a breakfast sandwich, or on top of a pizza. These aren’t garnishes; they’re centre-stage ingredients. (If this bowl were a movie, the ingredients would make up a savoury ensemble cast.) Oatmeal should only take up half of your bowl, and the rest should be cheese, bacon, pepperoni, roasted tomatoes, olives, pickles, and hot sauce.

Decide if you want to drop everything into the pot of oats and mix it in, so the cheese melts and all of the flavours mingle, or if you want to add each component in its own little area and build different combinations in every spoonful. I added some of my favourite spicy ingredients in this recipe, but the options are truly endless. I’m considering making a cheeseburger-style oatmeal next time.

Real-Meal Oatmeal


  • 1 link sausage, casing off
  • 1 teaspoon sambal
  • 1 tablespoon kimchi
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 chicken bullion cube
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 scallion, sliced into rounds
  • 1 half-inch nub fresh ginger, chopped into matchsticks
  • 1 egg, steamed or boiled and cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon fried garlic
  • Pinch freshly torn coriander

In a frying pan over medium-low heat, fry the sausage and break it up into small bits. When it’s halfway cooked, add the sambal and continue frying and breaking it apart. Push the sausage over to one side of the pan and add the kimchi to fry and heat up.

In a small pot over medium-low heat, heat the water and bullion cube to a boil. Add the oats and stir. Simmer as usual and turn off the heat when thickened. Serve the oatmeal in a bowl and fill with the sausage crumbles and sambal oil, kimchi, egg halves, scallion, ginger, coriander, and fried garlic.

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