By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Have your ever gotten sick from overeating? I did this past week.
Overeating is not my usual game. Self-control is one of my merits. Here is what happened though: four nights in a row, I was feasting on rich salmon, chicken, steak, and plenty of goodies at community events, which always serve dinner late. I am the type who always answers hunger, especially when my stomach roars. Once my dinnertime passes, I easily wolf down food unconsciously.
There was also a family celebration with a fantastic lunch, munching on pasta and seafood in the midst of all of that. That’s an extravagant meal. And sorry, discipline just slipped out of my mind. I finally paid the price — literally sick from excessive eating and rich meals — too many calories. In addition, my work is forever demanding. Stress compounded with overeating caused my body to just collapse. It’s happened before. What did I do to recover?
Not Pepto-Bismol! A simple formula to nurse my body back to health is cooking dinner after shopping in the International District for ingredients. Put a stop to unhealthy indulgences.
You would think simple food and cooking is not as appetizing. Wrong. The dinner was yummy. I enjoyed it so much that I’d like to share it with you.
I do it Chinese-style, so we never really consider any dish as the main course. To me, every course has its own importance, contributing to the balance and beauty of the dinner. We serve five items for dinner, but only two of them require much work.
We shop at Uwajimaya for ingredients. It’s smart to visit the seafood department first, as it is sometimes quite busy and a popular site for shoppers. It is also one of my favorite stops. Its variety and quality of seafood is top-notch.
If you are not feeling your best, fish is the safest choice. Studies have found that eating fish at least twice a week will provide you with the needed nutrients, such as omega 3 fats, proteins, and other minerals and vitamins. Most importantly, research has shown that eating fish may decrease the chance of having Alzheimer’s. Also, it is easy to digest.
There are a lot of choices at Uwajimaya. But my husband and I bought about a pound of sea bass for dinner. Sea bass is known for its smooth texture. Even if you overcook it, its smoothness is still present. For two people, we couldn’t possibly eat that much fish in one sitting since we have other dishes. We bought a big piece so we can save half for the next dinner. It’s quite a bit of work to steam the fish, and cut all the ginger and green onion.
Since the fish was so fresh, we never felt that it was leftovers for the next day.
Then we ventured off to the produce section to buy our favorite tomatoes, the yellow kind, not the red. Called the golden grape tomatoes from Mexico, they taste wonderful, and we eat them fresh.
I used to like the red baby tomatoes. Not since I found the golden grapes. I never enjoy tomatoes that are way too sweet like the red ones, as if they were melted with honey.
Golden grape has a natural sweetness and tastes really fresh. Normally, I would devour about six to eight tiny tomatoes with my dinner. Need I say more about the benefits of eating tomatoes? They have antioxidants and slow down aging. And they don’t need to be cooked. Also, anytime you place tomatoes with your other dishes, the color enhances the look of your dinner plates.
We never intended for the meal to be a vegetarian-focused dinner, but that’s what happen. It’s okay because vegetables are great for you!
Next to the tomatoes was the yam section. I didn‘t know what kind of yam it was, it had a pretty burgundy color. It was so good I went back later to find out the name of this yam. It was satsuma-imo yams. We like to experiment with different produce so we bought one. To preserve its original taste, we cut it into half and boiled the whole thing. Cutting it into half shortens the cooking time. After boiling for 20 minutes, we took it out from the pot and ate it with the skin, without any seasoning. We enjoyed its natural sweetness. We ate the skin because of its vitamins. I ate about four slices and I loved it.
Ah, the yam leaves. One of my staff members, who rents a small plot from the Danny Woo Garden in the ID, plucked yam leaves from the garden. I was fortunate to know someone who loves to garden and who will supply me with fresh veggies frequently. I stir-fried the leaves with ginger and garlic. It was splendid. You probably assume that I have a secret ingredient. No, I don’t. All I added was some salt. If the ingredients are fresh, your job as a cook is half way done. You don’t need to add too much fancy sauces for food to taste fabulous.
Another comfort food I bought was a can of black beans. Yes, it’s not fresh. But it tasted pretty good. When I was a child, I hated beans. Now, I love them because I learned to appreciate them as one of my food sources. Beans aids in digestion and provides important nutrients. Beans are also filling, so I don’t need to eat a lot of rice. Mixing brown rice with black beans is palatable and nourishing. It’s my favorite dinner dish.
Most folks are surprised that we busy people have time to cook at home. I enjoy cooking. It’s therapeutic. However, it’s just that I don’t like to do the prep work, including cutting and washing the ingredients, and also doing the dishes afterwards. I’m so glad that my husband doesn’t mind doing all that. I fill the title of being the head chef, and my husband is the sous chef doing all the dirty work involved in preparing dinner. Perhaps, I trained him well. Or perhaps, he spoils me. Or he’s actually a talented cook, waiting to be discovered. Many men are great cooks, but just too lazy to cook. I have to admit, there are some dishes my husband is far better at preparing than I am, like steaming the fish in the microwave.
Go experiment with all kinds of ingredients from Uwajimaya with your family, and cook together as a family. After all, cooking is about teamwork. In anything you do, teamwork wins. Have fun cooking.
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.