Have Your Hawker Food And Eat It (More Healthily)
STORY: Pearlyn Tham
19 February 2021
So we've just entered the Lunar New Year. That means we can have a go again at those new year's resolutions right?
To start the Year of the Ox on the right foot, here's a list of ways to enjoy your fave hawker dishes in a healthier fashion, and, at the same time, support our UNESCO-recognised hawker culture!
1. Ban mian
In recent years, this soupy dish of flat noodles with minced meat, vegetables, anchovies and that all-important semi-cooked egg seems to have become the poster child for healthier eating options at the hawker centre or food court. At just 475 calories a serving, it is a fairly wholesome meal. To make it even less sinful, skip the soup as it’s usually cooked with a lot of sodium. You can also swop the meat with sliced fish. Most importantly, do without the fried shallots and anchovies.
2. Fishball noodles
Not everything soupy is better for you, contrary to popular belief. If you are having this dish, have it in the dry form. The soup version actually contains more sodium (since you will be drinking it). Dry fishball noodles have 370 calories, compared to the soup version with 550 calories.
Congee may look more innocent than rice but it’s still rice… just cooked in another way. If you love your porridge but need to watch your diet, choose one with lean chicken (214 calories) and avoid century egg porridge (422 calories).
You’re better off choosing the tangy Penang version as it has 377 calories. Local laksa, in comparison, has 590 calories. But Penang laksa has a much higher sodium content which exceeds the daily sodium requirements for an average adult so indulge in it only once in a while and do not slurp up all the gravy even if it smells so tempting!
5. Fried carrot cake
Good for you if you’ve always preferred the white version. It has 466 calories, compared to black chai tow kueh which has 100 more calories – thanks to the extra dark sauce in it. Even better, share the dish with your makan kakis.