- Nutritionist provides a recipe to give you the vitamins, antioxidants and fibre of the popular dish without the trans fat of the typical deep-fried versions
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When it comes to classic Hong Kong street foods, one of the most beloved delights is fried stuffed three treasures (煎釀三寶). The colourful veggie snacks filled with fish paste stand out on the city’s streets.
As their name suggests, these bite-sized munchies are made of vegetables, such as aubergine and capsicum, stuffed with dace fish paste. They are typically deep-fried and served piping hot, with soy sauce and oyster sauce drizzled on top. The natural sweetness of the vegetables goes well with the savoury fish paste.
Fried stuffed three treasures are believed to have originated from Guangzhou. The dish provides an option for those craving a side of vegetables with their usual snacks.
They’re called the “three treasures”, but there is a wide variety to choose from. In Hong Kong, ingredients used for the snack filled with fish paste include capsicum, aubergine, bean curd puff, tofu and smoked sausages.
Nutritional value of stuffed three treasures
The veggies in this dish are a welcome addition to the abundance of fried street food. But Kathy Ng Yiu-fan, a senior nutritionist at Kat-Spirit Nutrition Centre in Hong Kong, advised against having store-bought fried stuffed three treasures every day.
She explained that vendors usually opted for the easier method of deep-frying instead of pan-frying, which is a healthier way of preparing this dish.
“Vegetables such as aubergine take a longer time to cook, and they are often deep-fried as a quicker way to prepare food. Compared to other cooking methods, deep frying adds a lot of calories. In addition, each time oil is reused for frying, its trans fat content increases,” the nutritionist explained.
Every 100 grams of deep-fried aubergine contains 176 calories, 6.8 grams of fat, 3.2 grams of sugar, 24 grams of carbohydrates and 5.8 grams of protein. When pan-fried, the same amount of aubergine has 58 calories, 2.6 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of sugar, 9.2 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of protein.
Pan-frying uses a much smaller amount of oil, so it ensures our body takes in the vegetables’ nutrients without the unnecessary trans fat.
Fried stuffed three treasures have plenty of vitamins and minerals to offer. According to Ng, dace fish paste is low in fat and high in protein, which is great for building muscle and body tissue. Another common ingredient in this dish, tofu, is also a good source of protein.
Aubergine is rich in dietary fibre and vitamins. Green and red capsicums contain a good amount of vitamin A and vitamin C. Both boost our immune system and are antioxidants that protect our body’s cells from damage.
In fact, fried stuffed three treasures can be part of your everyday diet when paired with rice and more vegetables. For a wholesome home-cooked version of this dish, Ng recommended the following recipe that is sure to add colour and flavour to your next meal.
Pan-fried stuffed treasures
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 large aubergine
1 green capsicum
1 red capsicum
1 packet of firm tofu
500 grams of dace fish paste
1/2 cup of low-fat chicken stock (or water)
1 tablespoon of oil (for pan frying)
Cut tofu into large cubes, and pat them dry with a towel. Place ½ tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan, and heat it over medium heat. Add the tofu cubes, and cook for five to six minutes, until one side of the tofu is brown. Gently flip the tofu, and cook for another five to six minutes. Transfer the pan-fried tofu cubes to cool on a plate with a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Wash and cut aubergine and capsicums into thick slices, about 3cm each.
Add the fish paste into the tofu cubes and onto the sliced vegetables.
Add the remaining oil to the non-stick pan, and heat it over low heat. Add the stuffed ingredients with the fish paste side down. Pan-fry for five to six minutes, until golden brown.
Add chicken stock or water, and bring the ingredients to a boil. Turn off the heat, and simmer the ingredients for another five minutes. Remove the pan-fried vegetables and tofu, and serve hot.
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