What’s for Dinner?

Home-cooked Japanese Dinner for Four

Baranacle Rock-shell (ロコ貝)

Salmon Carpaccio (サーモンカルパッチョ)

Seafood in Coconut Curry Sauce

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
6 scallions, coarsely chopped
1-inch piece fresh ginger root, grated
2-3 tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste
1-3/4 cups canned coconut milk
2/3 cup fish stock
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 lemon grass stalk, broken in half
12 oz white fish fillets, skinned and cut into chunks
8 oz raw squid rings and tentacles
8 oz large cooked shelled shrimp
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp Thai soy sauce
4 tbsp chopped fresh Chinese chives

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the scallions and ginger and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the Thai Red Curry Paste and stir fry for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk, fish stock, lime leaves, and lemon grass. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute.
  4. Add the fish, squid, and shrimp and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the fish is cooked.
  5. Add the fish sauce and soy sauce. Stir in the chives. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Curries

How to Cook Rice: In Asia, It’s No Laughing Matter

Kok Xinghui wrote . . . . . . . . .

Food court operator and consultant K.F. Seetoh cooks his rice using a rice cooker so that the grains are cooked more evenly. For the same reason, chef Eric Low prefers to steam his. Ask self-styled “rice girl” Momoko Nakamura, however, and she swears by cooking over a stove.

“It tastes better on a stove with an actual flame, instead of through an electric kitchen appliance,” said Nakamura, who never cooks her rice over an induction stove. The former producer for food shows now curates organic rice from farmers across Japan for an international subscription service – much like a wine subscription.

Rice, in Asia, is serious business. The culturally diverse region eats a variety of rice – Basmati rice, Jasmine rice, multigrain rice or Japonica rice and more – and cooks it in different ways.

According to Statista, the average person in Asia consumes 60.4kg of rice a year, almost double the world average consumption of 38.4kg of rice per person.

China is the world’s largest producer of rice, producing over 148 million metric tons of milled rice, followed by India’s 116 million metric tons and Indonesia’s 36.70 million metric tons.

The price of rice can surge according to demand. For example, in April when droughts kept production low amid the coronavirus pandemic, Thailand increased its export prices to US$579 per metric ton, from US$510 just a month prior.

Asians are also finicky about which types of rice should accompany what types of food, and how they should be prepared. The Japanese tend to eat short-grain rice that is fluffy, while in Laos people eat glutinous rice steamed in woven baskets. In Cantonese restaurants, some chefs even mix glutinous rice with Jasmine rice or short-grain rice to make thick and smooth congee.

There are also debates about whether it is better to cook the rice over the stove or use a rice cooker, with some swearing by certain brands of rice cookers. In recent years, there has been a growing move from white rice to brown rice and wild rice, which are thought to be healthier.

In the BBC video, the host Hersha Patel uses a cup to measure out how much water to add to the pot, whereas Chinese in Southeast Asia have been taught to stick their index finger into the pot and make sure the water only reaches the first joint of the finger (although Chef Low said this wasn’t right as different types of rice grains required different amounts of water). Another faux pas in the video is that Patel does not wash the rice before cooking it.

But those transgressions were minor. Bigger ones came as – gasp – Patel opens the pot of rice, which looks watery, drains it, and runs water over the rice. “How can you drain rice with colander? This is not pasta,” exclaimed Uncle Roger. “Why you running water through rice? You ruining the rice.”

By August 6, the video had more than nine million views and marketeers churned out ads at BBC Food’s expense. Online retailer Shopee posted an ad for a colander on Facebook with the caption that colanders were for rinsing vegetables or other ingredients, “not to rinse the rice, especially not after you boil it”. “Let’s unite against cruelty against rice,” Shopee said.

In Singapore, supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice put up a Facebook ad for a strainer selling at S$3.50 (US$2.50). “Not just to make an exotic plate of fried rice,” read the ad, “but for filtering your tea leaves and citrus seeds.”

Even Singapore’s prime minister weighed in. On Facebook, Lee Hsien Loong shared an Atlas Obscura article on how rice cookers were invented, making a pun that it was all good “fan” (Chinese for rice), given BBC Food’s “unconventional method of preparing the rice”. Lee also used the post to nudge readers towards brown rice.

As Yurdi Yasmi, International Rice Research Institute’s regional representative for Southeast Asia, puts it: “Rice is the most important crop in Asia.”

TOP CROP

In fact, many Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, Laos and Sri Lanka have rice on their coat of arms, said Yasmi. Even the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has rice on its coat of arms. “Many countries would consider food security largely as the availability of sufficient rice for their citizens. More than that, the culture of Asian countries has been built heavily around rice for centuries. People celebrate planting and harvesting seasons, there are dances that symbolise rice cultures, and prayers and rituals are performed for rice,” he said.

Rice is such a huge part of food security that countries have tried persuading citizens to be less dependent on the staple. Indonesia tried to push for that in 2012 to ameliorate rising rice prices. Paul Teng, adjunct senior fellow and food security expert at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, Nanyang Technological University, remembered Singapore trying to get people to eat more bread or noodles instead of rice in the 1960s.

Dr Goh Keng Swee, then Finance Minister, estimated that Singapore would save S$22 million a year and create jobs in local flour mills if people ate more wheat and less imported rice.

These campaigns clearly did not work, said Teng, but what did get people to eat less rice was Bennett’s law – as people become wealthier, they get more of their calories from vegetables, fruit, meat, fish and dairy products instead of carbohydrates.

“As GDP per capita increases, people tend to reduce their dependency on calories in diet and this inevitably sees a reduction in rice consumption. They can afford to buy more expensive foodstuff that are higher in quality and that’s very evident in places like Singapore. Koreans, too, are now eating about half as much rice as they used to,” Teng said.

Patel and Ng have since addressed the widespread teasing, collaborating on a new video in which Patel shows her fried-rice cooking chops to Ng. Still, the food experts said people did actually cook their rice in the manner shown by the BBC. Nakamura said some people in India boiled the rice “like pasta”, and Low said parts of South Asia parboiled their rice and rinsed it before adding it to stews.

“Cook the rice for 15 to 20 minutes so some starch leeches out and they rinse it. Nothing wrong with doing that. I think a lot depends on what you’re expecting from the recipe,” said Low.

Nakamura said: “There are just so many different ways to cook rice and so it’s interesting to see an emotionally charged reaction to the video.”

Why the big hoo-ha? Seetoh said it was because rice was “near and dear to us”.

“Everybody in this part of the world grew up with rice, so it’s a childhood love thing,” he said.

Nakamura, who grew up with an “overflowing” love for rice, said food was “extremely emotional” and it was connected to memory. “Everyone has a memory of it, everyone has an opinion of it, everyone. I don’t know anyone who actually doesn’t like rice. I know people who try not to eat rice because they’re on a diet or whatever. But I really can’t think of anyone who says that they dislike rice.”

Yasmi said: “Many Asians regard rice as the most important element of their food. In many cultures, to eat or to have dinner means ‘to eat rice’. It is not a dinner if there is no rice. In many Asian households, cooking rice is also one of the first cooking skills a child would have.”

Ultimately, how the rice is cooked also has to suit the recipe. Low said of the BBC video: “Basically, she’s trying to cook fried rice and it is associated with Chinese cuisine. I guess Uncle Roger is looking at it from a Cantonese perspective and to do it the way she did is completely heinous.”

How then should fried rice be done? Seetoh, after watching countless Singapore hawkers and chefs, has the answer: cook the rice and let it cool to remove as much of the moisture as possible; it can even be kept overnight in the fridge.

“Once the rice is dry and rested, the guy puts it in a wok and then the rice never stops moving on the wok or it will stick and break. So a good chef will have a well-seasoned wok where they don’t really fry, they rock the wok and keep rocking the wok so the rice is forever flying and landing – it never sits for more than a few seconds. So they are only giving char to the outside of the grain while the inside is soft and fluffy,” Seetoh said.

Source: SCMP

Multivitamin, Mineral Supplement Linked to Less-severe, Shorter-lasting Illness Symptoms

Older adults who took a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement with zinc and high amounts of vitamin C in a 12-week study experienced sickness for shorter periods and with less severe symptoms than counterparts in a control group receiving a placebo.

The findings by Oregon State University researchers were published in the journal Nutrients.

The research by scientists at OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute involved 42 healthy people ages 55 to 75 and was designed to measure the supplement’s effects on certain immune system indicators. It also looked at bloodstream levels of zinc and vitamins C and D while taking the supplement, as these micronutrients are important for proper immune function.

The immune indicators, including white blood cells’ ability to kill incoming pathogens, were unaltered in the group receiving the supplement.

The multivitamin group showedimproved vitamin C and zinc status in the blood. Most intriguingly, illness symptoms reported by this group were less severe and went away faster than those experienced by the placebo group.

The same percentage of participants in each group reported symptoms, but days of sickness in the supplement group averaged fewer than three compared to more than six for the placebo group.

“The observed illness differences were striking,” said corresponding author Adrian Gombart, professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the OSU College of Science and a principal investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute. “While the study was limited to self-reported illness data and we did not design the study to answer this question, the observed differences suggest that additional larger studies designed for these outcomes are warranted – and, frankly, overdue.”

As people get older, the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies that contribute to age-related immune system deficiencies rises. Across the United States, Canada and Europe, research suggests more than one-third of older adults are deficient in at least one micronutrient, often more than one.

“That likely contributes to a decline in the immune system, most often characterized by increased levels of inflammation, reduced innate immune function and reduced T-cell function,” Gombart said. “Since multiple nutrients support immune function, older adults often benefit from multivitamin and mineral supplements. These are readily available, inexpensive and generally regarded as safe.”

The multivitamin supplement used in the study focused on vitamins and minerals typically thought to help immunity. It contained 700 micrograms of vitamin A; 400 international units of vitamin D; 45 milligrams of vitamin E; 6.6 milligrams of vitamin B6; 400 micrograms of folate; 9.6 micrograms of vitamin B12; 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C; 5 milligrams of iron; 0.9 milligrams of copper; 10 milligrams of zinc; and 110 micrograms of selenium.

“Supplementation was associated with significantly increased circulating levels of zinc and vitamin C, and with illness symptoms that were less severe and shorter lasting,” Gombart said. “This supports findings that stretch back decades, even to the days of Linus Pauling’s work with vitamin C. Our results suggest more and better designed research studies are needed to explore the positive role multivitamin and mineral supplementation might play in bolstering the immune system of older adults.”

Source: Oregon University

Sprains, Strains? New Guidelines Urge OTC Painkillers, Not Opioids

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

People with common muscle and joint injuries should skip opioids and instead reach for over-the-counter pain relievers, new treatment guidelines suggest.

The recommendations, from the American College of Physicians and American Academy of Family Medicine (AAFP), cover acute musculoskeletal injuries — woes ranging from sprained joints and strained muscles, to inflamed tendons and whiplash.

The groups say that in general, treatment should start on the conservative end, with pain-relieving creams and gels.

If that’s not enough, common oral painkillers are good options. They include acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

On the other hand, the guidelines discourage prescribing opioids such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet. While the drugs can help with shorter-term pain, they are also potentially addictive and carry a risk of serious side effects.

“Opioids should not be routinely used for acute pain,” said Dr. Timothy Wilt, who chaired the ACP Clinical Guidelines committee.

“Acute” means pain that has been around for less than a month. Other research has found that opioids are also of little use for most cases of chronic pain unrelated to cancer.

That’s not to say no one who is in acute pain should get an opioid prescription. Some people may need the medications for a short time, said Wilt, a professor of medicine at the Minneapolis VA Center for Care Delivery and Outcomes Research.

But in general, he said, the evidence shows “other options are safer and more effective.”

The guidelines, published Aug. 17 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, are based on a review of over 200 clinical trials testing treatments for recent musculoskeletal injuries. Patients had a range of injuries — from sprained ankles to torn hamstrings to whiplash — but did not have low back pain.

A set of 2017 guidelines tackled low back pain, and came to similar conclusions: If medications are used, NSAIDs should be the first choice, said Dr. Gary LeRoy, president of the AAFP.

The new guidelines suggest topical versions of NSAIDs — with or without menthol gel — be tried first.

That emphasis on topical painkillers — and stance on opioids — are good to see, according to Dr. Houman Danesh, a pain management specialist who was not involved in the guidelines.

“It’s important for doctors to feel supported in not using opioids,” said Danesh, who directs the division of integrative pain management at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

With the United States years into an opioid abuse epidemic, medical societies have been advising doctors to rein in their prescribing of the drugs when other options are available.

Yet the drugs are still commonly prescribed for musculoskeletal pain, Wilt said. Danesh agreed, noting that patients sometimes ask for them.

It is true that NSAIDs can have side effects, like stomach upset or internal bleeding — especially if used for a prolonged time. And some people are at increased risk of side effects from NSAIDs or acetaminophen, including older adults and people with heart, kidney or liver disease.

That’s why topical NSAIDs are suggested as a first choice: They have fewer side effects, LeRoy said.

On balance, though, NSAIDs and acetaminophen are safer than opioids, and often ease acute pain, the guidelines say.

Danesh did note that inflammation is part of the body’s natural response to acute injury. And in general, he said, he tells patients that if the pain is tolerable, they can see how they do without oral NSAIDs.

There are non-drug options, too, LeRoy said.

Two were singled out in the recommendations: acupressure and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Trials show they help ease pain and — in the case of acupressure — may improve people’s physical functioning.

Some others — like physical therapy and massage — were not cited in the guidelines but might help some people, according to LeRoy.

The good news is musculoskeletal pain usually wanes within four to six weeks, according to Danesh. “If it doesn’t,” he said, “you may need a referral to someone like me.”

Ultimately, Danesh said, it’s best to try to figure out the root cause of musculoskeletal pain. If imbalances in muscle strength or unconscious postural habits are underlying the pain, that should be addressed.

Source: HealthDay


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