Most people think that chefs must eat the best food at home, but the truth is that, lots of us probably have the worse diets when it comes to cooking for ourselves.
No matter what your profession, the last thing anyone wants to do is bring your work home – chefs included. Unless we’re blessed with a partner, mother or housemaid that loves to cook, a chef is more than likely going to whip up something quick and not so healthy. But Fijians are learning to use the many different Asian sauces with ingredients they already have at home.
In last week’s episode of Taste of Paradise, viewers discovered that there are many more stir fry sauces than just black soy. Combine a combination of these with Fiji’s fresh meats and vegetables, and there is no reason why Fijians should be eating so much tinned and processed foods.
Some of the brands of sauces have been around for more than 50 years, and have a long history of quality and flavour in top restaurants around the world. Luckily for Fiji, many of these same sauces are now available locally so cooking restaurantquality Chinese food at home is now possible for everyone.
What I am loving about my food adventures in Fiji, is that I am always discovering fresh produce that I did not know was here.
When I was at Lazy Chef’s in Flagstaff, I discovered a farmer in Savusavu is now producing one of nature’s oldest and ancient medicine foods. Quail eggs are small speckled pearls that are packed full of nutrition and much healthier for you than chicken eggs. Since ancient times, this delicacy has been prized as a dietary and healing food. While quail eggs are small, they contain many biologically active substances we need to be healthy. They are an abundant source of essential trace elements and vitamins.
Their nutritional value is 3-4 times higher than that of chicken eggs; contain three times more vitamin B1; and contain twice as much vitamins A and B2. Quail eggs provide five times as much iron and potassium as chicken eggs, and are richer in phosphorus and calcium.
Due to their amazing health content, quail eggs are considered as a dietary food because they do not contain bad cholesterol (LDL) and are very rich in good cholesterol (HDL), so people with high cholesterol can eat them. Unlike chicken eggs, they do not cause allergy, and many naturopaths believe that regular consumption of quail eggs can help prevent against many diseases, strengthens the immune system and enhances memory. Most Fijians would laugh at their tiny size, but just two quail eggs a day is said to make you smarter.
How? Quail, like turkeys, are foods that contain the essential human brain food, Selenium. This vital mineral helps to keep the brain healthy, and aids in keeping all the connections and neural pathways working. Quails are also a delicacy to eat on their own, and have graced the tables of French and Asian restaurants for centuries.
Closer to pigeon, the baby birds are delicious roasted, deep fried and stir fried. If I had a choice between quail and fruit bat, the quail wins hand down. But until Fiji farms quails and quail eggs commercially, they are going to be more expensive than chicken. But who knows, maybe more enterprising farmers will consider farming quail for consumption, thereby creating more healthy food for locals and possibly a new export opportunity for Fiji. More than one billion Chinese cannot be wrong, as quail eggs have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years.
This week on Castaway Island Fiji, I am hosting international visitors and food journalists from around the world who have come to experience my Fiji Food Safari and discover super foods – the medicine foods from nature. This 5-day food festival features cooking daily master classes, helping prepare lovo with locals, and ends each night with special dinner hosted by me.
The fresh, Fijian organic produce I use in this menu jumps off the plate when combined with infused local flavours. Adding the health and super food component, and you begin to understand how Fiji’s young chefs can lead the way in a whole new diet. Not only for Fijians, but for the whole world. Fiji TV is also filming the final onehour season finale of Taste of Paradise during the food safari.
This episode will also explain my life changing journey and rediscovery of my passion for good food and a happy life, thanks to the staff of Castaway Island. We visit local organic farms, sevusevu with the Tui Lawa in historical Solevu Village and cook lunch village-style.
We also reveal for the first time about the long forgotten Malolo War of the 1840s in Solevu Village, and the discovery that the remains of two US servicemen killed at the time are still likely on a nearby island.
Also appearing on the last show of the year is one of my mentors and Australia’s first Chinese celebrity chef, Elizabeth Chong. Now 81 years old, Elizabeth is an example of healthy living, and will be sharing some of her own secrets with viewers and island guests.
Ironically, our career paths have taken similar roads, as Elizabeth was one of the first Chinese chefs to appear on Australian television teaching people at home how to cook Asian food, with regular contributions in newspapers, magazines and her cookbooks.
It seems that history has repeated itself, and the student has now become the teacher.
• Lance Seeto is the host of FBC-TV’s “Exotic Delights” and owner of KANU Restaurant in Nadi.