Let us cook without oil

‘Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colours, there are only so many flavours – it’s how you combine them that sets you apart.’

– Wolfgang Puck, Austrian-American chef.

NOW that the prices of cooking oil in the market are going up, maybe it is time for us, especially housewives, to cook without oil.

The Malaysian government has announced the removal of subsidies for cooking oil in bottles of 2kg, 3 kg and 5 kg from July 1.

However, the subsidy for cooking oil in 1kg plastic bags, which is sold at RM2.50 per packet, will not be affected. With that, I foresee that the cooking oil in packets of 1kg will be snapped up as soon as they are put out for sale.

The Ministry of Finance revealed that the government was currently subsidising about RM6 per kg of cooking oil. The current price is around RM8.50 per kg.

Now, even before the removal of subsidies, consumers are already complaining about the high prices of cooking oil. When the subsidies are taken away, the prices will jump even higher. So where does that leave consumers, especially those in the B40 group?

There are many types of cooking oil in Malaysia. Among them are coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, palm oil and canola oil.

Most consumers use palm oil. Those who are more health conscious will use olive oil, sunflower oil, corn oil or canola oil.

Even before July 1, my elder sister is already complaining about the difficulties of buying chicken eggs and cooking oil in Bintulu.

“There are long queues and someimes, I cannot wail,” she told me over  the phone.

My sister sells fast food on a small scale. When I asked her to cut down on her cooking oil, she replied, “Cannot. You must have a lot of oil to fry your fish and chicken eggs. Otherwise, they don’t taste good and look good.”

In retrospect, indeed, when you sell fast food, your food must not only taste but look appetising, too. Otherwise, you will lose current and potential customers. Even the owner of a stall selling stewed  soups must use enough oil to cook his/her dishes so that they taste good.

As for the rest of us, especially housewives, can we cook without oil or very little oil?

Maybe, it is a resolute yes, for those who are older. Since they are more health conscious, they can survive without oil or very little oil.

 For me personally, happiness is a bowl of piping hot delicious soup with a bit of meat and lots of vegetables eaten with a small amount of plain rice.

How do I normally cook my soup? Well, I put some chicken bones or minced meat in a pot of water. When the water is boiling, I add some chopped veggies and seasoning. After it has simmered for a while, the soup is ready!

I can live without meat, especially fried chicken. But give me salads and I can eat them everyday.

Many of those who belong to the young generation thrive on fried chicken, fried chicken eggs and anything and everything fried. I say this because I discover my son, nieces and nephews are all carnivores.

They love soup with lots of meat inside, like chicken curry soup, rendang beef soup and braised duck soup. The only vegetable soup they will eat happily is egg drop soup with corn? Why? This is the soup their late grandmother (my mother) used to prepare  for them when they were young.

That is why I think habit and conditioning have a lot to do with the way we eat, the way we cook our food and the way we use our cooking oil. If we condition our children to eating food cooked with no oil or less soil from young, they will learn to love it.

Since bad habits die hard, unhealthy lifestyle choices that we are very accustomed to are difficult to change or give up. However, if there is a will, there is way.

One blogger, who has embraced the oil-free cooking basics, suggests, “Next time, you run out of your cooking oil, don’t buy more. BOOM habit: gone.”

I do not suggest we all go oil-free immediately. Since the prices of cooking oil will keep on spiraling, perhaps we should start by cooking with less oil. While economising, we can stay healthy. When frying, we can replace oil with liquids. We can try steaming, buy non-stick utensils, utilise the oven and turn to an air-fryer.

So my friends, from today, let us cook without oil.

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