Fancy a healthy Japanese takeaway? Just follow the advice of Dr. Carina.
Naughty – Chicken Katsu Curry
There’s very little on a Japanese menu that’s deep fried – but in Chicken Katsu Curry you’ve managed to find one of the exceptions. It’s the far-eastern version of Southern Fried chicken, but served in a smooth, sweet curry sauce, and generally with rice. First, chicken breasts are beaten to tenderize them, dipped in egg, then in seasoned flour and breadcrumbs – if they’re a lurid orange colour, don’t worry, these are Japanese ‘Panko’ breadcrumbs. Then comes the naughty bit – they’re deep fried until crispy, so this will probably be among the most calorific options on the menu.
A katsu curry sauce is like no other curry sauce you’ve tasted before – it’s a delicious combination of spicy, sweet and salty. As well as curry powder and sometimes garam masala, you’ve got soy sauce for a salty tang and that special Eastern flavour, and a generous helping of sugar or honey for sweetness. It just works! Unfortunately, there will be little if anything in the way of vegetables – generally just a little chopped onion and grated carrot. So try to compensate by adding a veggie side dish.
Nice – Edamame Beans
Edamame beans are simply fresh baby soya beans, pure and simple. Soya is highly nutritious. It’s high in protein, and what’s more it’s ‘complete’ protein, which means it contains all of the amino acids (protein building blocks) our bodies need. Edamame beans are a respectable source of iron and calcium, too. Plus soya contains plant compounds called isoflavones, and research suggests these could reduce your risk of certain cancers. Soya beans are high in fibre as well, which helps keep your digestive system moving smoothly, as well as reducing your risk of certain cancers such as bowel cancer. And a portion of edamame beans counts towards your five-a-day target.
Edamames are great if you’re keeping an eye on your weight. They’re low in calories and fat, and virtually all of the fat they do contain is the unsaturated kind that’s good for your heart. And that combination of protein, healthy fats and fibre has an added bonus – this nutrient combo makes a dish extra-filling, so you’re less likely to overeat where the rest of your meal is concerned. So a dish of juicy green edamames a brilliant starter when you’re eating Japanese. Just ask for them unsalted, and add a tiny pinch, or a little dash of soy sauce, at the table if you like.
Dr Carina Norris is JUST-EAT.ie’s independent resident nutritionist. Carina is a registered nutritionist, author, journalist, and consultant. She also possesses an MSc in Public Health Nutrition. She was the nutritionist for Channel 4’s Turn Back Your Body Clock, and wrote the spin-off book for the series, as well as the last four ‘You Are What You Eat Books’, and several other health and nutrition books, most recently The Food Manual.