Nothing keeps the tummy full like rice does. When chef Tony Khoo was a child, his mother would prepare a simple all-in-one rice dish in the morning for him and his siblings before going to work.
"We would reheat it for lunch and dinner," said Mr Khoo, 52, executive chef of Marina Mandarin Hotel.
"It consisted of cheap broken rice, brown rice, diced sweet potato and any leftover ingredients," he said. "The sweet potato adds sweetness to the rice and helps us stay full for a longer time."
He has since "upgraded" his childhood dish with better-quality ingredients, ranging from pumpkin to shitake mushrooms and even a few baby abalone. Of course, those who prefer not to go to that expense can replace the abalone with any protein they prefer.
• Peel the pumpkin skin with a slicer. This is easier and safer than using a knife. Or, saw apart the pumpkin using a bread knife instead of a chef's knife. This takes less effort.
• Soak the dried shrimp in hot water, as this hydrates them faster while removing impurities.
"Chicken, fish, other types of seafood, anything goes well."
This dish has a unique mix of nutrients, said nutrition consultant Mayura Mohta, who has written cookbooks of healthy recipes.
Pumpkin, for instance, is rich in fibre and contains vitamins A and E, and some B vitamins, she said.
And edamame beans are packed with minerals like iron, magnesium and manganese.
"Rice is free of gluten, provides instant energy, regulates bowel movements, stabilises hunger pangs and is an essential source of vitamin B1," said Ms Mohta.
This dish is a good option for people who wish to eat more healthily, but without abandoning the familiar staple food of rice. There is no need to use expensive organic ingredients to make healthy homecooked meals, said Mr Khoo. "Use fresh ingredients and cook them using healthier methods like grilling or poaching," he said. "Nothing tastes better than the natural sweetness of vegetables and meat."
Poon Chian Hui
• 50g Thai jasmine rice, uncooked
• 50g glutinous rice, uncooked
• 70g pumpkin, diced into 1cm by 1cm cubes
• 5g dried shrimp
• 8g dried shitake mushroom
• 20 edamame beans, blanched in boiling salted water and peeled
• 30g canola oil
• 5g garlic, chopped
• 210ml water
• 4 baby abalone
• 150g vegetable stock
• 2g dark soya sauce
• 2g oyster sauce
• 80g pumpkin, sliced
• 120g vegetable stock
• Salt, to taste
• In a wok, saute the garlic and dried shrimp in canola oil.
• Then, add the mushrooms and pumpkin cubes. Cook until the mixture is fragrant. Add the two types of rice.
• Allow the ingredients to sweat for a few minutes before pouring the water into the wok. Bring to a boil and transfer the rice mixture into a rice cooker. Cook the rice mixture.
• Meanwhile, prepare the baby abalone topping by simmering them in 150g of vegetable stock and dark soya sauce. Cook until the stock has reduced or evaporated, and covers the abalone like a glaze. Adjust to taste with the oyster sauce.
• Once the rice is done, add the cooked edamame beans and stir evenly. Allow the rice to rest in the rice cooker for 15 minutes.
• In another pan, prepare the pumpkin sauce by sauteing the pumpkin slices and adding 120g of vegetable stock.
Allow to simmer until the pumpkin softens. Puree the mixture with a blender and return it to the pan.
• Season with salt, if needed.
• Spoon the pumpkin sauce in the middle of the plate.
Mould the rice into four portions, and place one portion on each plate.
Top with abalone and serve.
Cholesterol: Less than 5mg
Dietary fibre: Less than 1g
•Provided by Ms Mayura Mohta, nutrition consultant