From junk to semi-healthy

DONA, my cousin, asked me to write something about junk food and how to make them healthy or semi-healthy to lure children to eat more veggies.

That’s a tall glass-of-carrot juice order for me. It’s like asking a fish to walk on land and even if I were a lungfish, I wouldn’t want to stay dormant for two years.

Lungfish can stay out of water for two years. They are living fossils since they have survived unchanged for nearly 400 million years. The West African lungfish can adapt to land because they have primitive lungs and can hibernate during dry seasons. They lungfish remain dormant, until the rains come down.

Thank you for taking that long detour with me about lungfish. I don’t know why I get caught up in getting these details in. Now, on to my real assignment. I studied how some popular streetfoods could be upgraded to even semi-healthy conditions. Tempura and fishball are some of the more common varieties of mock fried seafood in batter.

Street food tempura or fishball is ground fish or shrimp mixed with flour and formed into logs, then deep-fried. Real tempura is made with whole shrimp (or fish or sliced vegetables) dipped in batter and deep-fried till crispy brown. How to make street food healthier is dependent on where you add them, such as in the following.

PANCIT-TEM. Make simple pancit by sauteeing garlic and onions, then adding sliced pork. When the pork changes color, add sliced Chinese chorizo and shrimp; season with fish sauce and oyster sauce. Add pork stock or plain water and let boil, then add the noodles and cook till almost done before adding the thinly sliced carrot sticks and finely sliced cabbage. Adjust seasoning. Just before serving, add fried tempura sliced into five pieces.

SS FISHBALL. Make sweet and sour sauce by making slurry (cornstarch mixed with water). In a saucepan, saute garlic and onion, then add vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar and soy sauce. If you have pineapple juice from drained pineapple tidbits, use the juice and pineapple for more flavor. Add sliced bell pepper and let boil before adding slurry. Stir till thickened.
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