Thursday, 1 September 2011


I love Asian cuisine. Love, love, looove. Ask anyone who knows me, and they'll know my favourite food ever ever is sushi--just give me a slab of raw salmon, please and thank you.

But then there's also Vietnamese (pho noodle soup, hello?). And Korean (bibimbap, holy moly). And of course, Chinese, Thai, la la la, the list goes on. I'm salivating.

Perhaps my love for Asian cuisine is in part due to my ancestry--my Dad is Chinese. Whatever the reason, I love the sweet, spicy, and salty flavours of Asian food, and am a firm believer that if made properly, Asian cuisine can be a great addition to a healthy, well-balanced diet. 

When dining out, Asian cuisine--like anything else--can be high in fat, sodium (MSG, ahem), and more often than not, sugar. But when made at home (and believe me, you can make delicious Asian favourites in the comfort of your own kitchen), Asian cuisine can offer new and exciting nutrients (or as I like to refer to them, magic powers and special potions) to your diet. Cue: miso, warming spices like anise seed, seaweed, sesame, etc.

So, what about those 'delicious favourites even you can make at home'? Well, try a simple stir fry. Chop up your favourite veggies, add some lean protein such as chicken breast or tofu, and whip up a simple sauce of soy sauce, fresh ginger, minced garlic, and agave nectar.

Try my bibimbap recipe inspired by one of Gwyneth Paltrow's favourites. Or make this: Asian Lettuce Wraps with Chicken. All it requires is a bit of chopping, but once you've got all of your ingredients ready to go, it's quick, delicious, and healthy. What's better than that?

Asian Lettuce Wraps with Chicken

olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1-1 1/2 cups crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
1 lb. lean ground chicken
4 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. agave nectar
1 1/2 tsp. Chinese Five Spice
salt and pepper, to taste
Hoisin sauce (optional)
1 head lettuce, any of romaine, butter, Boston, iceberg

1. Heat a large pan on medium to high heat and drizzle with olive oil. Add onions, celery, carrots, and mushrooms to the pan. Cook until carrots and celery are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add ground chicken and combine with vegetables. Make sure all is well mixed and add soy sauce. Coat mixture. Add agave nectar and spices. Stir.

3. Lower to medium heat and let mixture simmer until all flavours are well combined. Adjust seasonings accordingly.

4. Meanwhile, break up the head of lettuce into individual leaves, wash, and dry well. For serving, take a lettuce leaf, spread with a small amount of Hoisin sauce (if desired), and spoon the filling into the leaf. Wrap the leaf around the filling and enjoy!

Makes 4 servings.

images via it will stop raining, kalyn's kitchen, running with tweezers, and google

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