Usually, I like my meals simple, tasty and healthy at the same time. You might have come across many who preach that tasty food are normally unhealthy, but here, I beg to differ!
Did you know that apart from steaming, baking is another healthy cooking method? Being Asian and of Chinese-origins, I am very used to wok-fried food. The oven, to me, used to be an equipment just for cake-baking, or perhaps the occasional pizza-making!
It was when I moved to the UK, and having to do my own cooking, I discovered the wonders of oven-baked food! So why is baked food healthy, especially when you compare it with frying? Firstly, it helps you avoid using additional fats (like using cooking oil to grease the pan), which in turn lessen the calorie intake. Apart from that, by baking, it leaves the nutrients intact, while preserving the juiciness of the meat, especially when you bake the meat over a medium heat, which helps you avoid overcooking/burning the outside while the meat inside is still raw.
In addition to the advantage of being healthy, baking allows you more time to get prepared while the food is baking. For example, if you are having guests coming over, you might need some time to prepare yourself too on top of preparing the food. So, the moment you pop the food into the oven, you can safely spend 15-20 minutes leaving it alone baking in medium heat, while you grab your shower, get dressed and perhaps put on some make-up if you don’t need 30 minutes or more to get that done.
Oh, and before I forget, here is a tip for those who likes to spend less time in scrubbing and cleaning your baking tray: line your tray with aluminium foil! This is an invention I can’t live without! Imagine all the time saved from scrubbing the sticky grease off your tray after baking and you’ll definitely thank me for this tip!
So, if you have not tried any meat-baking recipes, here are three recipes to get started with.
#1 Lamb with Garlic, Greek Olives and Rosemary
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 2 portions of lamb chops (the fresher, the better)
- sea salts to taste
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 6-8 greek olives, pitted and chopped
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 tsp of olive oil (optional)
- First, heat up your oven to medium heat.
- On a large enough baking tray, line it with aluminium foil and put it aside.
- In a bowl, mix the sea salt, minced garlic and rosemary together. Then rub this mixture onto the lamb chops. (Tip: If you want the meat to by more flavourful, allow 1 hour for the meat to “marinade” before baking.)
- Place the seasoned lamb chops onto the aluminium-lined tray.
- Spread the chopped olives evenly on top of the lamb chops.
- If you want, you can drizzle some olive oil over the ingredients,
- Bake it for 15-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chops.
- Start checking the meat when the aroma becomes strong.
- If you like it slightly raw, you might want to just leave it baking for 15 minutes tops.
Serving suggestion: As a side, you might want to pair it with mashed potatoes, and drizzle the juice from the tray on top of the potatoes before serving!
#2 Pork with 5 Spice and Honey
So this is a Chinese-dish inspired recipe, a bit similar to the BBQ pork-ribs that you might find in Chinese eateries.
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 2 pork chops/loins or pork ribs enough for 2
- 2 tbsp of dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of 5 spice powder (or more if you like the strong flavour)
- ½ thumb of ginger, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- roasted sesame seeds (for garnishing)
- In a cooler bag, put in the pork, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, 5 spice powder, minced ginger, shallot and garlic.
- Secure the bag opening and shake the bag to allow all the ingredients to mix together evenly.
- Leave the pork to marinade in the bag for 1 hour.
- Heat up your oven to medium heat and line your baking tray.
- Place the pork onto the tray, and bake the pork for 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the pork.
- Once you have checked that the thick-middle part of the meat is cooked, drizzle some honey generously on top of the pork, change the oven settings to “Grill” to allow the honey to caramelise. 3-4 minutes will do.
- Once grilled, you can sprinkle some roasted sesame before serving.
Serving suggestions: You might want to boil some pak choi to serve with this dish. The leftover sauce should compliment the vegetable nicely.
#3 Bacon-wrapped Beef/Chicken Livers
I know, I know, bacon might not be such a healthy food, but I think we’re allowed to treat ourselves to bacon once in a blue moon, don’t you? :)
This is inspired by a light lunch I had over at my Scottish friend’s place. He had pan-fried it instead of oven-baked it, which tasted yummy! So I had tried it by baking it instead, which works really well too. Another idea is to put them on skewers to BBQ when the weather gets hot!
Ingredients (serves 2-4):
- 6-8 thinly sliced bacon strip
- 250g of liver (beef or chicken works fine)
- 1-2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
- If you’re using beef liver, slice it into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat up the oven to medium-to-high heat and line your tray with aluminum foil.
- Place the liver in a bowl and rub it with Worcestershire sauce.
- Then wrap each piece of liver with the bacon strip and place them on the foil.
- Bake it for around 10 minutes, or until the bacon srtips are sizzling.
Serving suggestions: This can act as an excellent finger-food. Just place one toothpick on each piece to make it easy to serve. Tabasco sauce works really well with it too!
There you go, fun and yummy recipes to bake with! So, why not get yourself rolling and be prepared to fill up your kitchen with the wonderful aromas while baking! Happy baking!
Cover photo: www.angsarap.net