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Former chef's cancer-friendly Asian recipes

The side effects of radiotherapy treatment meant John Wong found it difficult to eat and drink. He also found that the diet he was being recommended was not suitable. He had a degree of lactose intolerance and didn’t usually eat much dairy.

“I fell back on softer food and a Chinese type of diet,” he said.

Two years on, some of his recipes are now included in “Soft, Sweet and Savoury”, a cookery book written by Royal North Shore Hospital dieticians specifically for Korean, Cantonese and Mandarin head and neck cancer patients.

John worked as a chef years ago at his parent’s Chinese restaurant in Maroubra so drew on his experience for inspiration. However, he modified the ingredients to suit head and neck cancer patients.

“I fully appreciate what kind of symptoms that people can get,” he says, adding they can range from having difficulties chewing or swallowing to nausea.

For example, he recommends tofu, boneless fish fillet and egg. “There is a lot of protein and it’s soft.”

He advises using fresh mushrooms over dried shitake ones and avoiding nuts and peppery flavours. “Peppers and chillies really irritate your throat – in my case anyway.”

The cookery book has been translated into Korean and simplified/traditional Chinese.

It was part of a package of culturally relevant information for CALD Head and Neck and Gastrointestinal cancer patients produced by NSLHD staff and a category winner at the 2023 NSW Multicultural Health Communication Awards.

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