Whether it’s looking for a lighter take on your favourite laksa, choosing low-fat cooking methods, or fortifying your dishes with herbs, spices and other superfoods, our guide to healthy Malaysian foods will help you breeze through winter with a clean bill of health.
One of our favourite ways to warm up during winter is with a steamy bowl of laksa, but when it comes to healthy eating, not all laksas were created equal. Instead of reaching for your go-to curry laksa recipe, why not try one of these authentic Malaysian laksas instead? A specialty of Penang, assam laksa packs all the punch of curry laksa, with half the calories. Plus, it’s loaded with omega 3s from the mackerel, and vitamins courtesy of the fresh herbs, pineapple, galangal, ginger flowers and chillies.
Bone broth is all the rage at the moment, thanks to its high levels of collagen, amino acids, magnesium and calcium. But this isn’t new news to the Chinese communities and Malaysia and Singapore, who’ve been reaping the benefits of bone broth for centuries. The famous herbal soup, pork belly bak kut teh, has the added benefit of being packed with medicinal herbs, such as angelica, ginseng, licorice root, goji berries and garlic. Order your piece of pork belly with bone in to ensure you get maximum nutrients.
One of the easiest ways to clean up your cooking is to switch techniques. Ditch the deep-frying and wok-tossing in favour of steaming, which doesn’t require any oil and locks in all of the nutritional benefits of your ingredients. For a healthy midweek dinner, try this Malaysian recipe for steamed fish with salted soy beans. Another healthy cooking technique is grilling in banana leaves, such as this recipe for otak-otak.
By now, you’ve heard all about the health benefits of Korean kimchi and other fermented foods, but did you know Malaysian cuisine also showcases pickles? A popular Nyonya appetiser, achar is a colourful, crunchy selection of pickled vegetables, brimming with vitamins and minerals. Serve them as a healthy Malaysian snack or alongside meatier main courses.
Just like laksa, curry comes in various guises, ranging from full-bodied and calorific to lighter, leaner options. One of the tastiest ways to satisfy that curry craving without stacking on the kilos is to make this Malaysian assam fish curry recipe. Choose good-quality oily fish, such as Spanish mackerel cutlets, for an omega 3 boost, then load up your curry with ginger, garlic, tomato, tamarind and okra. If you really want to up the wellbeing ante, serve with one of these healthy rice options alongside. Or, if you can’t go past a creamy curry, try substituting low-fat yoghurt or evaporated milk for the coconut cream.
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