SINGAPORE - Student Lim Kai Ling initially thought that cooking claypot chicken rice without chicken stock would be a recipe for disaster but giving up was not on the menu.
Kai Ling, a 17-year-old Asian Culinary student from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), wanted to cook another dish at first but after discussing with her mentor and doing some research, she went ahead with the idea.
She and her team substituted chicken stock with vegetable stock to turn in a sizzling performance in The Great Renal Cook-off.
The cooking competition jointly organised by ITE and the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) on Oct 14 aimed to whip up tasty dishes suitable for dialysis patients.
The top three teams were at the NKF dialysis centre on Wednesday (Nov 6) to share their recipes with 22 patients via live cooking demonstrations.
Claypot chicken rice, capsicum with saba fish wrapped in cabbage and prawn pasta with chicken paprika were all served up with a flourish.
The recipes were judged on the overall nutritional content for dialysis patients as well as food presentation and flavour.
The competition - the first organised by the NKF and ITE - attracted 11 teams whose efforts were judged by a panel of four, including dietitians and celebrity chef Amri Azim.
Mr Amri's father was a patient at the Pasir Ris dialysis centre before he died in 2013.
Dietitian Lim Cheau Horng noted: "The recipes are special, higher in protein and lower in phosphate, sodium and potassium. Too much potassium would result in cardiac arrest."
Foods high in phosphate include anything with edible bones, nuts, beans, egg yolk and dried prawns. Foods high in potassium include most green leafy vegetables.
Chicken stock is not recommended as it is high in phosphate as bones are used to brew the stock.
"We hope this would raise awareness for the students. Things that are considered healthy such as whole grains and vegetables sometimes become unsuitable for dialysis patients," Ms Lim said.
Green leafy vegetables need to be cut into small pieces and soaked for one to two hours to reduce their potassium content. Patients are still encouraged to have low-potassium vegetables such as capsicums and cabbage.
Healthy individuals should try to maintain a normal body weight to reduce the risk of hypertension and diabetes - chronic illnesses that contribute to kidney failure. They should also maintain a healthy diet and lead an active lifestyle.
Kai Ling hopes to bring this knowledge home and also cultivate the habit of making healthier food choices.
"I cook for my family sometimes; we don't use sugar and I try to cut down on the salt usage, especially since my father has diabetes and needs daily insulin injections" she told The Straits Times.
Though this was her first live cooking demonstration, the budding chef hopes to one day open her own restaurant: "I will also use healthier recipes for special patients."