Are Asian foods healthier and less caloric than Western foods? It depends. Certainly, a bowl of dashi garnished with cubes of tofu and chopped scallions isn't very caloric, but a similar bowl of chicken soup isn't either. But here are some before the bucket is kicked.
Sushi and Sashimi
Yes, some people are a bit revolted by the idea of eating raw fish, but these two Japanese dishes are oh so good, especially when the vinegared rice is prepared just right and the fish is so fresh that it's still in rigor mortis. Fish and seafood used for sushi include salmon, tuna, though not the overfished bluefin, eel, flounder, octopus, shrimp, abalone and salmon roe. If the dieter really can't bear raw fish, they can have sushi made with avocado, sweetened egg, or cucumber.
Dashi is a broth made with a sheet of kombu seaweed and dried bonito flakes, bonito being a fish. It has a delicate taste and aroma and is the basis for many Japanese soups. It is wonderful to drink with nothing in it on cold winter nights.
The calorie count with this dish might be fairly high because it involves dipping food in batter and deep frying it. The great thing about tempura is that it can be made out of anything, including chunks of seafood, sliced Japanese eggplant, carrots, tofu, green squash, slices of lotus root and green onions. It should be drained and eaten while it's hot, for cold or left over tempura has lost much of its appeal.
Hot and Sour Soup
This delicious soup is made from tree fungus, dried tiger lilies, dried shiitake mushrooms and tofu in beef stock. All of the ingredients can be found easily in an Asian market and they're inexpensive. The dieter shouldn't worry about the tree fungus. It's also called cloud ears and is a black mushroom that's grown on logs. It's dried and when it's rehydrated it seems to grow ten times its size, then it's sliced and added to the soup. The soup only needs one or two to suffice.
This dessert is a bit fussy to make, but it's heavenly. It uses raw chestnuts, sugar, a pinch of salt, heavy cream, one orange and glaceéd walnuts. The chestnuts are pureed, then garnished with the orange and walnuts and slathered with whipped cream in a mold.
This is an Indian dish where chunks of lamb are cooked in a creamy curry sauce and served with rice, chutney, raita or onion sambal. Made with coriander, cumin, cardamom seeds, ginger, cloves, red pepper and garlic, it smells as good as it tastes.
Wontons Stuffed with Pork, Cabbage, Scallions and Ginger
Though a lot of people may have bought wontons at their take-out place, there's nothing like making some at home. They're not that hard to make, and practice makes perfect.
These are rice balls and are very popular in Japanese picnic boxes. The ingredients include fresh salmon fillet, one sheet of dried nori, which is also used for wrapping sushi, bonito flakes and umeboshi, pickled and salted plums. Onigiri are a bit labor intensive to make, but, again, worth it.
Miso Soup with Oysters and Bean Curd
Miso is soy bean paste and this dashi-based soup uses red and white miso, fried bean curd, regular bean curd, about 16 oysters, Japanese parsley, fresh ginger root and sansho powder. It's very, very delicious indeed.
Larry Lim writes reviews on Japanese restaurants in Singapore and recommends Online Restaurant Reservations for your instant guide on any restaurant located in Singapore.
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