Hot Pot is indeed a favourite dish of many Malaysians; but not much attention is paid to the ingredients used in preparing this dish. The focus on satisfying our palates with flavourful broths and delicious add-ons of the Hot Pot dish has caused us to overlook its health risks. How is the average household able to whip up a fuss-free, yet wholesome version of the beloved Hot Pot? Here’s what a nutritionist thinks should be raided from the local stores or markets to prepare a Healthy Hot Pot.
Broth Base: Healthy Kudzu Root Soup
Seafood is a staple ingredient in Hot Pot meals; hence, in order to balance out the amount of fat and calories we will be consuming from it, a vegetarian soup base is recommended. The sweet, light nuances of broth brewed from Kudzu makes it a good choice as a base a Hot Pot. Chinese medicine holds a firm belief that this root is able to detox and lower blood pressure levels, while protecting the liver and qi. It is also purported to have brilliant beautifying and medical properties as well. The New Year period is often synonymous with sweltering temperatures – add in some lotus and red bean into the broth to prevent edema and promote diuresis.
Ingredients for broth:
- 600g of Kudzu
- 40g of red bean
- 300g of lotus
- 1 carrot
Ingredient 1: Colourful Vegetables
Go for fresh, seasonal local vegetables that have been in lesser contact with pesticides. Another tip is to go for colour; you’re able to obtain tons of dietary fibre and plant hormones from these sources. The different coloured vegetables will not only add a pleasant aesthetic to the dish, but also great flavour and texture, each with their own health benefits too.
Ingredient 2: A Party of Mushrooms
Different families and varieties of mushrooms all have their own unique flavours and textures, and by adding more mushrooms into your Hot Pot, your broth will become all the more delicious! Mushrooms are low in calories, roughly 40 kcal for 100 grams, which make them perfect for our Healthy Hot Pot. Mushrooms can also boost the immune system and contains polysaccharides, making it extremely beneficial for health. It is also worth noting that although mushrooms are generally very nutritious and great to have, it is also high in purine. Despite the levels of purine not being similar to the levels found in meat, those suffering from gout might wish to cut down on their intake of mushrooms, and not slurp up too much of the broth either.
Ingredient 3: Pick your meat and seafood well
It is recommended that you go for hormone and antibiotic-free meat, and if you wish to have less fat in your diet, select the fillets instead of purchasing rich cuts like pork belly. Grass-fed cows and pigs are usually not confined and have more space to wander, which is more humane and also means lower fat content in their meat as well. If you’re worried that the lower fat content affects the taste and texture of the meat, we suggest slicing it thinly, and then marinating it with a little flour and seasoning of choice to keep the meat juicy and tender.
Similar to pork and beef, use chicken bred in a natural environment. The chicken breast from these sources is not injected with hormones and low in fat, with deliciously tender flesh.
Select fish that is rich in Omega-3, such as salmon, mackerel, and the like. Have it in slices and give it a quick poach in the broth before it’s good to eat! Other types of seafood, especially prawns, are doused with preservatives to keep them fresher for longer – so it’s advised to have less of them.
Ingredient 4: Fishballs, Meatballs, and Everything Else In Between
Our local markets are often sufficiently stocked with various varieties of hand-made fishballs and mushroom-dotted meatballs that generally, are able to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Ensure that the fish/meat balls come entirely from natural and real origins so you can indulge in them without worrying about food risks or safety scares! For artificial meat products, such as crabsticks or fish/meat balls that are factory-manufactured, it’s best to avoid them. This is because they are high in starch, colourings, preservatives and MSG, and lack the nutritional goodness of those made with full natural sources.
Ingredient 5: Tofu and Soy Products
Smooth and silky tofu is not only able to fill us up well; it’s also low in calories too! Tofu is a great source of protein. Although fried tofu products are loved by many, they’re high in fat and should not be consumed in large quantities. For similar flavours, a healthy alternative would be tofu skins.
Ingredient 6: Noodles
Konjac noodles are high in fibre and are definitely a good choice to have in your healthy Hot Pot! Other varieties of noodles, such as udon, brown rice vermicelli and buckwheat noodles are also great alternatives with good flavour and texture.
Ingredient 7: Eggs
For eggs, crack them directly over the broth and allow them to be cooked all the way through before consumption. Although there’s a folk belief that dipping foods into a raw, beaten egg mixture is able to prevent heatiness when eating Hot Pot, eating raw egg is an unwise course of action. It puts us at higher risk of contracting salmonella, which causes stomach inflammation and food poisoning as well.
Ingredient 8: Seasonings
The star of any good Hot Pot is the broth, while the supporting acts are its seasonings. But a lot of the common seasonings and sauces that are paired with the Hot Pot dish are often high in sugar, MSG, colourings, preservatives and other nasty stuff. In order to fully savour and appreciate the natural flavours of the broth, limit the addition of seasonings. Try using natural herbs and spices such as ginger, garlic, spring onion, chilli and a dash of soy sauce to add another layer of flavour.
What beverages should be paired with Hot Pot?
Pu-Er tea or fruit vinegar that is low in sugar goes great with Hot Pot meals as they aid digestion and have grease-reducing properties.
Grocery List For A Healthy Hot Pot
- Greens : Choy Sum, You Mak
- Orange : Red Carrots & Pumpkin – high in carotene and Vitamin A
- White : White Radish, Leek, Yam – prevents heatiness
- Purple : Purple amaranth, red cabbage
- Yellow : Large bean sprouts, corn
- Red : Bell Peppers
- Enoki Mushrooms, Oyster mushrooms, Coral Mushrooms, Button Mushrooms, Shiitake Mushroom
- Fish & Meat:
- Lean beef slices, lean pork slices, chicken breast, hand-made fish balls & meatballs, fish slices (saury, salmon)
- Tofu & Soy Products
- Tofu & Tofu Skins
- Eggs, Noodles, Konjac Noodles, Udon, Brown Rice Vermicelli