The choice to find and eat healthy food is currently a goal for a lot of people from different walks of life. We, as educated human beings, have always been aware of the nutritional values of food and its health benefits but only recently are we being more aware of it because of the ongoing hype.
We are living in a more health-conscious society. The internet is also a great influence in spreading the word about healthy foods and new diets to look out to get a healthy lifestyle. A lot of blogs, articles, and influencers on social media are giving tips and tricks to eating a healthy diet. They also promote health products and share their daily health regimen. The majority of dishes shared on social media platforms, however, are more focused on western dishes and influences. This is the reason why we will be sharing healthy food recipes in this article from the Asian variety.
Among cuisines around the world, it is known that Asian cuisine is one of the healthiest, if not already the healthiest. Asia cuisine uses a lot of home-grown ingredients that are native to a specific country. For this reason, Asian cuisine also has a lot of unique dishes that are yet to be explored by other cultures. All these ingredients have their own health benefits.
Here are a few recipes we have compiled for healthy dishes available in Asia.
Chinese food has already made its name around the world. There are several “Chinatowns” in different countries and among other Asian cuisines; Chinese dishes belong to the more known group. “Chinese takeout” is especially known in Western countries and because of this, the recipe we will be sharing is of the famous Chinese fried rice dish.
Cauliflower Fried Rice
A healthier alternative to the usual Chinese fried rice, Cauliflower fried rice, as stated in its name, is substituted by Cauliflower. This decreases the overall calories of the dish and having several other vegetable ingredients, it proves to be a healthy recipe worth trying. It is high in fiber and great for Vegans as well.
● 3 tbsp peanut oil (divided)
● 4 cups cauliflower (riced)
● 3 scallions (sliced)
● 1 tbsp fresh ginger (grated)
● 1 tbsp garlic (minced)
● ½ cup red bell pepper (diced)
● 1 cup snow peas (trimmed and halved)
● 1 cup carrots (shredded)
● 1 cup edamame
● ⅓ cup unsalted roasted cashews
● 3 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
● 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
● Heat a large wok over high heat and put in 1 tablespoon of peanut oil.
● Add the garlic, ginger, and scallion while stirring continuously for about 40 seconds until the scallions have softened.
● Add the vegetables such as bell pepper, carrots, edamame and snow peas for around 4 minutes or just until the ingredients have equally tendered. Some people prefer to cook it longer to make it less crunchy. Cook it for a shorter time if you want the opposite.
● Transfer the cooked mixture in a plate.
● Add the remaining peanut oil in the pan that was used for the mixture.
● Add the riced cauliflower and stir for about 2 minutes or until it has softened.
● Add the mixture back to the pan and include the cashews, soy sauce, and sesame oil
● Mix well and serve warm.
Japan is known to be the healthiest country in Asia. They advocate the minimalistic way of living and also use fresh, native and good quality ingredients in their dishes. Their cuisine reflects a lot about their culture and society. Most Japanese dishes take time to make. This shows their patient and methodical temperament. Japanese food is especially known for its sushi. They are able to produce dishes using raw food. Since the early years, Japan has been ahead in technology and innovations compared to other countries but they remain humble and exquisite.
Aside from sushi, Japan is known for their ramen. There are plenty of ramen varieties to choose from but the simpler ones are already quite healthy. Miso Ramen is usually the household favorite way of making ramen. It is undoubtedly healthier than making instant ramen and miso soup is already quite a staple in their dishes that incorporating it as the base soup of ramen is not surprising.
● 1 tbsp sesame oil
● 2 cloves garlic (minced)
● 1-inch ginger(minced)
● 1 shallot(minced)
● ¼ lb ground pork
● 1 tsp Doubanjiang (spicy chili bean sauce/broad bean paste)
● 3 tbsp miso paste
● 1 tbsp white sesame seeds (roasted/toasted)
● 1 tbsp sugar
● 1 tbsp sake
● 4 cups chicken stock/broth
● 1 tsp Kosher salt ramen
● ¼ tsp white pepper powder
● 2 servings ramen noodles
● Ramen Toppings ( Chasu, ramen eggs, nori, pickled red ginger, chopped green onions, corn kernels)
● Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Saute the garlic, ginger, and shallot.
● Add the ground pork and increase the temperature in the pot to high heat. Cook it until everything is evenly brown.
● Add the pastes, the doubanjiang, and miso, as well as the sugar and sesame seeds. Mix thoroughly.
● Add sake, and chicken stock as well as salt and pepper to taste.
● Set aside the soup while simmering and start making the noodles.
● Boil the ramen noodles in water. There is no longer a need to add salt as ramen noodles have salt in the dough.
● Cook until al dente and make sure you thoroughly drain the noodles so that it does not dilute the soup mixture when they are added together.
● Serve the noodles in warm bowls and add the soup mixture.
● Top with toppings you desire like Egg, Chasu, Nori, and many more.
Thai cuisine is another cuisine that is starting to gain favor among travelers and social media influencers. There are a lot of dishes in Thailand that looks exotic but is actually simple and healthy. They are known to make dishes that are relatively made lightly but have a strong fragrance and spiciness to it. They also have a lot of dishes that are sweet.
An easy dish to make, Pad thai is a common dish in the streets of Thailand. It is composed of healthy ingredients such as noodles, peanuts, and tofu. A lot of places in Thailand tend to over sweeten this dish. This might just be for their personal taste but the dish can be made in a way that is more balanced. The ingredients in the dish below is a more refined version of pad thai that incorporates its ingredients in a balanced manner.
● Kosher salt
● 8 oz. wide rice noodles
● 2 tbsp. lime juice
● 2 tbsp. brown sugar
● 1 tbsp. fish sauce
● 1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
● 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
● 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
● 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
● 2 cloves garlic, minced
● 2 eggs, lightly whisked
● 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
● Freshly ground black pepper
● 2 green onions, thinly sliced
● 1/4 c. roasted peanuts, chopped
● 2 eggs
● Other toppings (Tofu and bean sprouts) [optional]
● Start by cooking the noodles in a large pot of boiling water. You may add salt.
● Once the noodles are done the cooking, drain it and set aside.
● Mix the condiments (brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, and cayenne pepper) in a small bowl.
● Heat oil in a large pan at medium-high heat.
● Add bell pepper and stir for about 3 minutes.
● Add in garlic and shrimp as well and continue to stir.
● Season with salt and pepper.
● Cook until the shrimp turns pink on each side.
● Set the shrimp and vegetables on the side of the pan to make space on the other side.
● Pour the egg on the empty side and scramble then mix with the shrimp mixture.
● Add in the cooked noodles and combine together thoroughly. Top with the lime juice mixture to add taste.
● Garnish and serve warm.
Indonesian food is known to be colorful and very flavorful. Some people may think that strong flavors are equivalent to more spices and a meal that is unhealthier, however, Indonesian cuisine has a lot of dishes that are rich in vegetables and healthier condiments. They tend to have several ingredients in one dish and this is also something good as it allows us to make a lot of tweaks to their dishes to adjust it to our liking.
It is a kind of salad dish consists of different healthy ingredients like tofu, eggs, and other steamed vegetables. It is notable for its unique peanut sauce. It is also considered as one of the main national dishes of Indonesia. “Gado” literally translates to “mix”, therefore,’Gado-Gado” means “mixes”. This is a suitable name as the dish comprises of several vegetables. It is also known to be a good source of Vitamin C and K.
● ¼ cabbage (sliced thinly)
● 2 cups green beans (chopped)
● 1 pound bean sprouts
● 1 chayote (peeled and cut into short strips)
● 2 cups spinach or Chinese kangkung [optional]
● 1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
● 2 tbsp brown sugar
● 1/2 cup water
● 1 red chili pepper (chopped)
● 1 tsp fermented shrimp paste [optional]
● 1 cucumber (peeled and sliced) [optional]
● Making “Gado-Gado” involves a lot of blanching vegetables. To start the preparation, boil water in a large pot over high heat.
● On another large bowl, prepare an ice bath where the vegetables will be cooled down.
● Note that some vegetables need a longer time for blanching as they have a thicker coat. In Gado-Gado, two examples are cabbage and bean sprouts.
● Blanch by boiling the vegetable and throwing it in an ice bath quickly and draining it afterward. This allows the vegetable to be cleansed and helps it preserve its vitamins for a longer time.
● Blanch the cabbage for about 7 minutes until crisp and tender
● Blanch the green beans for a shorter 2 minutes
● Blanch the bean sprouts for about 10 minutes
● Blanch the chayote for about 3 minutes
● Blanch the spinach for a very short half minute
● Set aside all the vegetables that have been blanched and chill in the refrigerator first.
● To prepare the dressing, combine the peanut and sugar and pulse in a food processor.
● Slightly add water to make it a bit runny but still grainy. It should not turn into a creamy consistency.
● Add in the chili pepper and fermented shrimp paste.
● Combine the vegetables in a large bowl and mix with the dressing.
● Serve fresh.
Vietnamese cuisine is famous for the aromatic dishes that also has a distinct fish sauce taste to it.
Their dishes have a lot of Chinese influence in it, especially the way on how they cook their food. They have a lot of dishes that are stir-fried and they also have several noodle dishes inspired by Chinese Cuisine. They also have a bit of influence in their dishes from their southern neighbors in Thailand and Cambodia which uses more tropical ingredients, herbs, and spices.
This Asian soup dish is a good source for several vitamins and minerals such as Iron. It has a fresh taste and a distinct aroma from the fish sauce and cilantro. A lot of people who have tried this dish has commended it for its healthy ingredients such as having flank steak. The soup base of the dish really brings out the taste of all its ingredients and gives out a fresh, almost “leafy” kind of taste. The dish may be a bit tedious to make but it is definitely worth to try.
● 4 lbs beef soup bones
● 1 pack of dried rice noodles
● 1 onion ( unpeeled, cut in half)
● 5 ginger (sliced)
● 1 tbsp salt
● 2 pods star anise
● 2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
● 3.5 L water
● 1 1/2 pounds beef top sirloin( thinly sliced)
● 1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)
● 1 tbsp green onion (chopped)
● 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
● 1 bunch Thai basil
● 1 lime (cut into quarters)
● 1/4 cup hoisin sauce [optional]
● 1/4 cup chili-garlic sauce [optional]
● Preheat oven to 425 ̊ F / 220 ̊ C.
● Roast the beef bones on a baking sheet until it has browned. This takes around 1 hour.
● Roast the unpeeled onion on a baking sheet until it has blackened and turned soft, this will take around 45 minutes.
● Take a large stockpot and cover it with water. Add the bones, onion, ginger, salt, fish sauce and star anise. Bring it to a boil then reduce heat to low.
● Simmer the dish on low for 6 to 10 hours.
● Once it has simmered very thoroughly, strain the broth into a saucepan and set it aside.
● Soak rice noodles in a bowl with room temperature water for about 1 hour.
● Boil the noodles afterward for a quick minute.
● Re-heat the stock back on the stove and bring it to a simmer.
● Prepare the dish by adding a portion of the noodles on a bowl.
● Add the toppings such as the sirloin, cilantro and green onion.
● Pour on the broth, and let it sit until the beef is partially cooked in about 2 minutes.
● Serve with side dishes such as bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime, hoisin sauce, and chili-garlic sauce.
Malaysian cuisine is very diverse. It has a deep history of foreign influences due to colonization and migration from neighboring countries. The traditions, ingredients, culture, and way of living of a lot of people in Malaysia is a combination of all these influences. They also share a lot of dishes with their neighboring country, Indonesia. They also share some of their dishes like “satay”.
It is a spicy meat dish packed with strong flavor and a curious mixture of ingredients. It is mainly made with beef, spices and coconut milk. A few people may call it somewhat similar to a “dry curry” and some a “creamy beef stew”, but however you may like to call it, it is undoubtedly one of the most flavorful dishes that can be found in Asia.
● 6 oz shallots
● 3 cloves garlic
● 15 dried red chili peppers
● 5 ginger root
● 5 lemongrass (chopped)
● 2 tsp coriander seeds
● 2 tsp fennel seeds
● 2 tsp cumin seeds
● 1 pinch nutmeg (grated)
● 1 tbsp vegetable oil
● 1 1/4 lbs beef stew meat (cut into small cubes)
● 1 1/2 tbsp white sugar
● 2 cups coconut (shredded)
● 5 whole cloves
● 1 cinnamon stick
● 1 2/3 cups coconut milk
● 7/8 cup water
● salt (to taste)
● Use a dry wok to heat the coconut and stir it continuously until it turns golden brown. Set it aside to cool.
● Combine the shallots, chilies, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass and mix all in a food processor to make a thick paste.
● Grind the coriander, cumin, fennel, and nutmeg as well.
● Put a little oil in a wok and heat it.
● Fry the shallot paste, then add the ground ingredients.
● Stir continuously for around 4 minutes, then add the beef and continue to cook until it has browned.
● Add in the sugar, coconut, cloves, cinnamon stick, coconut milk, and water.
● Once the mixture has been brought to a boil, lower down the heat to simmer it until only a bit of the liquid is left on the dish.
● Season with salt to taste if needed.
Similar to Malaysia and Indonesia, Philippine cuisine is also heavily influenced by other cultures. The strongest influence for Philippine cuisine is the Spanish. They incorporate a lot of spices and marinating in their dishes. The influence has developed their dishes but has also paved the way for them to make new dish innovations that they can call their own. Having a stronger taste in food, some may consider Philippine dishes to be unhealthy, however, similar to other Asian countries that prefer a flavorful dish, the ingredients incorporated in their dishes are actually rich in good nutrients that are healthy in their own way.
A kind of chicken stew recipe, chicken afritada is a simple dish that is usually cooked in the Philippines on normal days. It has a tomato base which makes it perfect to pair with plain warm rice. It also has simple vegetables included in the dish such as potato and carrots. It is one of the dishes in the Philippines that have a balanced stew recipe instead of an overpowered dish that focuses on only certain ingredients in a dish.
● 1 tbsp vegetable oil
● 3 cloves garlic (crushed and chopped)
● 1 onion (chopped)
● 1 cup tomatoes (seeded and chopped)
● 1 whole chicken (cut into pieces)
● 3 cups water
● 1 cup tomato sauce (optional)
● 3 potatoes (cut into 4)
● 1 green bell pepper (seeded and cut into matchsticks)
● 1 carrot (chopped)
● salt (to taste)
● ground black pepper (to taste)
● Heat a large wok in medium heat.
● Add oil and then add garlic. Cook until the garlic brings out its fragrance. This will not take too long and around 3 minutes.
● Add the onion and stir until it is translucent for about 5 minutes.
● Add unsliced tomatoes, cook for it a while and once it is a bit soft, mash it with a fork. The flesh and skin must separate when mashing, that makes sure that the tomatoes are tender enough.
● Now it is time to add the chicken to the wok. Stir until the chicken has lightly browned.
● Pour in water and add stock cubes when needed. Bring to a boil and make sure the lid is on their pans.
● Stir in the tomato sauce and simmer the dish.
● Add in the potatoes, bell pepper and carrot.
● Season with salt and pepper when needed.
● Stir in tomato sauce; simmer until flavors combine, about 15 minutes.
● Mix potatoes into the wok; simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.
● Stir in bell pepper and carrot; simmer until softened, about 5 minutes.
● Season with salt and pepper.
There are a lot other healthy food recipes from other Asian countries that have not been mentioned in this post. Asia is a continent that is very rich in natural resources and it is not surprising if there are thousands of other recipes that we have not discovered yet. It is good to know that Asian recipes can still be very tasty and yet provide the proper nutrients needed to be healthy.