The Healthier Choice but Still so Good

If you read the earlier post, Homecation and Home Fiestas, you might remember the Thai food festival at home. The challenge in that meal was to cook a healthier version of each dish as well, so there was the regular version and the special version (with dietary restrictions: low fat, no red meat and low salt).

Basil leaf chicken is a very commonly served Thai dish, but it is cooked using oil. Stir frying pounded garlic and chili and plucked basil leaves in oil is what gives the dish its unique fragrance. Chopped chicken is then added to the stir-fried garlic, chili and basil leaves. More oil is added to cook the chicken. It is then seasoned with fish sauce, light soy sauce, dark soya sauce and a bit of oyster sauce. A bit sugar is added to help bring out the flavours. A final handful of basil leaves is added at the end to give it more aroma.

To cook the healthier version, I stir fried the pounded garlic and chili and plucked basil leaves in garlic oil. I cooked the chopped chicken in water, then drained the water before adding the stir-fried garlic, chili and basil leaves to it, and seasoned it with reduced salt soya sauce. It had the fragrance of basil leaf chicken, though the texture of the chicken was different. As it had been cooked in water and stir-fried very quickly for flavouring, it had less oil.

The other challenge was the salad. I made Chinese sausage and pomelo yum salad. I sliced the Chinese sausages thinly and fried them in a wok over a low fire without any oil, until they were cooked (brown and a bit crispy). The oil in the sausages came out as they were cooked.

I sliced cucumber and red onions, halved cherry tomatoes and chopped fresh chili and lemongrass finely for the dressing. I melted some palm sugar in a bit of water over low heat, and added lime juice and fish sauce to it, then mixed the chili and lemongrass in. I tossed the fried Chinese sausages and pomelo in the yum dressing (see earlier post When Yum doesn’t mean Yummy but is Delicious for the yum recipe) and served it on a bed of lettuce.

Chinese sausages are out when it comes to low fat dishes. I cooked some squid in water and used the same yum dressing, except that I used soya sauce with reduced salt instead of fish sauce. There was still a burst of flavours in the special version of the salad.

I thought of trying something that everyone would like, that was in fact meant for the special diet. I made a fruit and vegetable soup with onions, tomatoes, Fuji apples, French beans and pepper corn. I sauteed the vegetables and Fuji apples with a bit of oil and minced garlic then added water and boiled a soup. I put the cooked vegetables and Fuji apples into a blender and returned the blended mixture to the soup and added salt to taste. It was served as a hot soup.

It had a slightly sour and peppery taste and reminded me of gazpacho, a Spanish cold soup, so I tried serving it cold. I liked it more as a cold soup. A cold soup is great on a hot day.

I have been particularly busy these past weeks. Among the things I had to do was to teach my brother how to use an ice cream maker. I told him to put the ice cream bowl in the freezer, and he did. But I forgot to tell him to remove the plastic wrapping it came in!

Well, my brother is very excited about making ice cream. He just told me that he bought a big bottle of vanilla bean paste when I told him that I use vanilla bean paste for my ice cream. It cost him S$75. I forgot to tell him to buy a very small bottle which costs about S$6.00.

The moral of the story is that I have to learn to be more specific with my instructions!

By Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 13 July 2021

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