S'pore actress Chen Liping learns how to make healthy sushi

The self-proclaimed "fattest artiste in Mediacorp" is looking sexy-svelte after shedding 12kg.

Life is clearly better for actress Chen Liping, and Cheryl Leong counts the ways:

Getting her sexy back

"It's been a long time since I've done photo shoots.

"Before I lost weight, whenever I had to wear figure-hugging dresses, my pictures were never flattering.

"While it's possible to digitally enhance the pictures, I refuse to have so much 'magic' done - I don't look like that in real life at all," Liping says candidly.

Now that she's a trimmer and healthier size M, the affable 48-year-old veteran actress is exuding heaps more confidence.

At our photocall, despite the constant jibes she makes about her weight ("Tsk tsk tsk, look at my arms and tummy" is an oft-heard refrain), Liping is visibly happy and at ease with herself.

Learning self-discipline

While she may have been self conscious about her weight, Liping maintains she's always loved and accepted who she is - which explains why she's never felt the need to control what she eats.

"I love to eat, so whenever people say: 'This is so sinful!' I would think, 'But you're eating something good - why make it sound like it's so wrong?'

"I never understood the term 'guilty pleasure' because I never felt guilty!" she guffaws.

But after all her hard work and self-discipline, Liping now thinks twice before indulging in her cravings and late-night munchies.

From needing to "eat two packets of instant noodles to feel satisfied", she stops short at just half now.

Cutting herself some slack

When she first embarked on her quest to lose weight, Liping limited herself to a tiny portion of rice, lean meat and vegetables for lunch every day.

But after two months of rigorous self-control, she now gives herself some allowance - a weight fluctuation of 2kg at most - to enjoy her "cheat" days without feeling miserable.

"I believe in losing weight 'happily'. So if I feel like eating bak kut teh, chicken rice or char kway teow, I will still have a few mouthfuls to satisfy my cravings.

"I don't want to cut myself off from life's little joys just to drop the pounds. I'm happy to be a weight-loss work-in-progress."

More diverse roles in the works

The actress admits that being slimmer could help her to get different roles.

"In The Dream Makers (2013), I was playing a senior executive and could only wear loose clothes. Yet, I felt that my role called for classier, sharper suits, which didn't look good on me.

"Whatever character you play, it needs to be convincing. After my weight loss, maybe they'll give me a role as a sports coach in future!" she says.

Showing Off Her Body in a Bikini

Perhaps... "At my age? Aiyoh... I'll leave that to the youngsters," she says, laughing.

"But I do hope to feel confident enough to step out in a sleeveless top one day!"

Oishii!

We asked Chef Tadao Fujisaki from Tokyo Sushi Academy Singapore to give Liping, who loves Japanese food, a crash course in making sushi - it's a healthy meal or snack option if you skip the dressing and go for less rice.

Part 1: Attempting a Temaki (Handroll)

1) Getting started

Placing a sheet of seaweed on a chopping board, Chef Fujisaki gets Liping to take a palm-sized chunk of rice and roll it around in her hand.

She has to get the rice ball as round as possible - without kneading. When he praises her for doing a good job as a first-timer, Liping jokes: "I play an ang ku kueh seller in my new Channel 8 drama, Yes We Can!, that's why!"

2) Piling it on

After patting down the rice on the seaweed, Liping adds a layer of shredded cucumber, then adds cheese and a prawn. A tip from Chef Fujisaki: Always place the main ingredients, or the ones with a strong colour, on top.

3) Folding away

Liping has some difficulty ensuring that her ingredients don't fall out as she folds the handroll.

Chef Fujisaki says: "The key is in the amount you put into the handroll - it shouldn't be so full that the two ends can't meet."

4) Passing with flying colours!

On her second attempt, Liping manages a perfect fold.

"She's a fast learner; I'm surprised her handroll didn't burst open - it's the most common thing to happen to a newbie," says Chef Fujisaki.

Part 2: Attempting an Uramaki (Inside-out Roll)

1) Laying it out

Liping puts a sheet of seaweed on a bamboo sushi mat, takes a fistful of rice and spreads it out along one length of the seaweed.

Then, she pats the rice down until it covers the seaweed, and places cling wrap over the sheet of rice before flipping it over.

2) Mix and match

She settles on crab sticks, cheese and shredded cucumber, then rolls the rice into a compact roll.

3) Almost there...

Next, Liping has to remove her sushi roll from the bamboo mat, then coat it with sesame seeds before slicing it.

To prevent the ingredients from spilling out of the roll, the trick is to slice it like how you would a tomato, says Chef Fujisaki.

"Move your knife back and forth without pressing onto the roll to preserve its shape.

"Wipe the knife with a clean, damp dishcloth before you make each slice so that the rice doesn't stick to the blade," he adds.

4) 'Lucky' rolls

"Doesn't it look like a ba tong (a mahjong tile depicting eight circles) to you? Huat ah!" she laughs.

 

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