Eat To Live

Build a simply healthy meal with brown rice, three vegetable and fish

Teriyaki rice bowl with grilled saba and vegetables.
Teriyaki rice bowl with grilled saba and vegetables.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

This healthy dish takes only minutes to prepare as everything is cooked in just one pan

This rice bowl is a good example of a balanced meal. There are three kinds of vegetables sitting on a bed of brown rice, topped with a piece of fish, garnished with seaweed and sesame seeds.

You can find such bowls in many places. The seasoning varies and some may offer only one vegetable.

I got the idea from Ninja Bowl, a casual sort of place in Duxton Road. It offers a Japanese-inspired menu that includes rice bowls or donburi, tapas-style small plates, brunch offerings and desserts.

You can choose pork, chicken or fish with rice (mixed grains), quinoa or orzo (a rice-shaped) pasta. And since there are three vegetables, you are more than sure that you are eating the recommended amount of vegetables in a meal.

The vegetables come in different colours, a good indicator of the variety of nutrients found in them.

The bowl controls the serving portion, with vegetables taking up most of the space. More importantly, it tastes good and is easy to make as everything is cooked in one pan.

I did my version of it using three kinds of vegetables, but served with brown rice. I omitted the egg and used saba (Japanese mackerel), which is meaty, richly flavoured and full of Omega 3 oil.

Everything was marinated in the same sauce and roasted in a baking pan: the fish, pumpkin, peppers, baby corn, mushrooms and broccoli.

The soya bean sprouts were stir- fried quickly to preserve the crunch.

The dish takes just minutes and you simply spoon out the rice from the rice cooker and put the vegetables on top, before adding the piece of fish with teriyaki sauce and the garnishes.

I chose my vegetables for their roastability and colours: warm reds and orange from the peppers and pumpkin, enlivened by the yellow baby corn; and woodsy greens from the broccoli and mushrooms, lifted by the white bean sprouts.

It is a pretty and healthy meal in one bowl.

• Sylvia Tan is a freelance writer and cookbook author. Her previous Eat To Live recipes can be found in two cookbooks, Eat To Live and Taste.



½ cup dark soya sauce

¼ cup sake

¼ cup mirin


Green basil leaves

Shredded seaweed

Roasted sesame seeds


4 saba or mackerel fillets from the wet market or supermarket, dried with paper towels and rubbed with a pinch of salt

2 red and 2 yellow peppers

½ butternut squash

1 packet baby corn

1 small head broccoli

1 punnet brown mushrooms

1 packet soya bean sprouts

2 tbsp sesame oil

4 cups cooked brown rice


• Make teriyaki sauce by mixing sauce ingredients. Set aside.

• Pre-heat oven to 200 deg C.

• Cut large vegetables into bite-sized pieces, leaving baby corn and mushrooms whole. Set the sprouts aside.

• Drizzle sesame oil over vegetables.

• Rub a little marinade over the fish. Place mackerel and vegetables on baking tray and roast for 15 minutes, depending on preference for degree of doneness.

• Heat a pan with 1 tsp vegetable oil and wilt the bean sprouts down.

• When the fish and vegetables are done, put ½ cup rice in each bowl and top with three vegetables. You can choose according to colours - pumpkin, peppers and baby corn or broccoli, mushrooms and sprouts.  Then add the fish.

• Drizzle with teriyaki sauce and, if you like, garnish with fresh basil, roasted sesame seeds and shredded seaweed.


Use smaller amounts of sauces for healthier recipe

All fish have low saturated fat content and high protein content. They are all good.

Saba mackerel is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and calcium. One piece of it provides 965mg omega 3 fatty acids or 97 per cent of the daily recommended amount. Omega 3 is important for our brain function.

It also provides us with 45mg of calcium, which is 5 per cent of our daily requirement. This is needed for our bone health.

Salmon and tuna have comparable nutritional values. It is recommended that we consume fish two to three times a week, including oily fish high in omega 3.

The vegetables in this recipe are high in vitamin A, B and C. They are loaded with minerals such as iron, zinc, copper and magnesium that are needed for body metabolism functions, as well as phytochemicals to keep us healthy.

For weight-watchers and people with diabetes, starchy vegetables such as yam, corn, pumpkin and butternut should be eaten in controlled quantities because they contribute carbohydrates to our diet.

Using brown rice, instead of white, provides more fibre, vitamins and minerals.

However, this dish is high in calories, carbohydrates and sodium, from the sauces used. The recipe can be made healthier by using smaller amounts of sauces.


(1 piece or 50g saba mackerel)

Energy: 133 kcal

Protein: 8.7g

Total fat: 10.9g

Saturated fat: 3.71g

Dietary fibre: NA

Carbohydrate: NA

Cholesterol: 17.25mg

Sodium: 32mg


Energy: 867 kcal

Protein: 29g

Total fat: 23g

Saturated fat: 2.1g

Dietary fibre: 12.4g

Carbohydrate: 140.2g

Cholesterol: 17mg

Sodium: 2,385mg

Bibi Chia

Principal dietitian, Raffles Diabetes and Endocrine Centre

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2016, with the headline 'Super simple, colourful bowl'. Print Edition | Subscribe