Healthier choice recipe: Salmon chirashi

PHOTO: Healthier choice recipe: Salmon chirashi

I love chirashi sushi - this is the Japanese dish of vinegared rice topped with a selection of seafood, usually raw.

I tell myself that there are benefits to the dish as it is mostly fish and has little oil, though it does come on a bed of white rice.

When cooking this at home, I try to make it even healthier by using brown rice and adding raw vegetables to the mix.

That is why you will find avocado and cucumber in the recipe.

But salt does figure in this meal, as do red pearls of roe from the salmon, known as ikura.

I feel that those bubbles of roe (although rich with cholesterol) give an essential burst of deliciousness with each mouthful.

You can give this ingredient a miss if you wish.

For me, moderation is the key and a few ikura pearls do a lot for the taste without too much harm to one's diet.

In this recipe, I use barely cooked salmon, salmon roe and omelette, but also avocado, cucumber and black sesame seeds, each of which brings its own goodness to the dish.

Sometimes, I add a few slices of raw sashimi-quality tuna to the plate.

Aside from the fibre and B vitamins from the brown rice, you will get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to healthy brain, heart and joint function,from the salmon.

While avocado is high in fat, most of it is monounsaturated fat, a "good fat" which reduces bad cholesterol and lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease.

But this dish has the advantage of allowing you to add or subtract any of the toppings to your liking.

You can even limit the toppings to cooked ingredients if you are cooking for someone who cannot stomach raw fish.

Other ingredients that you can choose from are other varieties of fish, crabsticks (which are made from fish anyway), asparagus, Japanese pickles, mushrooms, cooked prawns, bamboo shoots, carrots and more.

You would want to achieve a balance of fresh crunch, richness and sweet and piquant flavours.

I make this dish whenever I want a clean mouthful, after a bout of rich food.

It is also ideal in hot muggy weather, because it is not eaten while steaming hot.

It also does not demand much cooking - just the rice, egg and salmon - and that is something that every home cook looks for.

Deliciousness, healthiness and convenience, all in one bowl.

This article was published on May 8 in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times.Get a copy of Mind Your Body, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.