Forget drive-through meals in a bag. In less than 10 minutes, you can prepare a savory meal using Malaysian sustainable palm oil that may inspire your family to linger around the table. Chef Gerard Viverito, founder of PassionFish.org is joined in the kitchen by nutrition myth buster Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, as he demonstrates this easy meal.
Recipe inspired by Chef G.’s Malaysian travels
Chef G. created this recipe after traveling extensively throughout Malaysia. He worked side-by-side with some of that country’s top chefs, and toured the local markets and sustainable palm plantations. Using chicken breasts, baby bok choy, sustainable Malaysian palm oil, fennel seeds, coriander, turmeric, cumin, palm sugar and white pepper, he prepares an entire restaurant-quality meal in less than 15 minutes.
Spices and seasonings are nature’s superfoods
Bowden points out that spices are, “some of the richest foods in the world when it comes to anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.” He adds that some spices are also, “loaded with antimicrobial compounds.”
Chef G. agrees that spices are truly “functional foods”. He elaborates on why flavor and eye-appeal are so crucial: “We are one of the only countries where we sit down to eat (and) just to eat. I grew up in a big Italian immigrant family. We would sit down and it was a three-hour dinner. … It was a communal experience. … Now it’s how fast can you eat that drive-through bag of food, and there’s nothing healing in it.”
Malaysian cuisine is rising in popularity
“I read an article in Food Navigator that said that Malaysian cuisine is one of the up-and-coming stars of the flavor community,” comments Bowden. “Why is Malaysian cooking becoming so popular?”
“It’s because it’s just so vibrant,” responds Chef G., who wrote the forward to the Malaysian cookbook, Back to Basics. “The food is fresh. It has texture. It has color. Food is as much about psychology as it is about nutrition.”
Why both experts cook with sustainable Malaysian palm oil
Bowden comments that he knows, “100 good health things about palm oil nutrition,” and asks Chef G. why he uses it in his cooking.
“I use it because I’ve been to the jungle,” Chef G. responds. “I’ve seen how it’s hand-harvested by families. It’s one of the most sustainable oils in production, per hectare of land. They use every bit of it. In Malaysia, they use it all. They use the byproducts of the plants when they are done to fire up the steam generators to run the plantations. They replant. They take care of the land. They take care of the farmers. They use it for fuel. They use it for food. And that color! It’s got tocotrienols, vitamin A and vitamin E.”
Bowden comments that sustainable Malaysian palm oil’s color comes from its healthy carotenoids. He explains that the tocotrienols found in palm oil have been studied for their brain health benefits. “The study showed that the tocotrienols, of which palm oil is a great source, actually help to protect the brain after a stroke. Palm oil is very neuroprotective. It’s a shame that people still think saturated fat is bad for you, when really it’s not.”
Chef G. adds that while sustainable Malaysian palm oil may add a little color to food, it is essentially flavor neutral. “If anything, it will add a little buttery flavor.”
Chef G. reveals his secrets for cooking a juicy, tender chicken breast
The next time you prepare chicken breasts on the stovetop, Chef G. advises cooking them for only about three or four minutes. “Chicken breasts will always be thick on one end and tapered at the other. Put it in a Ziploc bag or between wax paper, hit it with a meat mallet, the bottom of a pan or a rolling pin to make it all the same thickness. It cooks at the same rate. Maybe it’s not as thick, but it can still be juicy.”
Once you hear these two experts describe all of the health benefits of these delicious ingredients, you’ll be excited to treat your family to your own version of this colorful and aromatic Malaysian-inspired meal.
Robin Miller is a health and nutrition editor with more than 30 years of industry experience. She researches and writes about the nutritional benefits of palm fruit oil, with the goal of giving readers factual, science-based information that will be useful in their daily lives.