Leftovers are the mother of reinvention.
Leftovers? We had a few, after our bounteous Chinese New Year dinner. Of all the meals eaten throughout the year, this is the critical one. My table must heave with food on Chinese New Year’s eve.
You see, a full table symbolises that I will enjoy abundance throughout the year. Hopefully the abundance will be directed at my bank account. Not my hips.
The Starting Meal:
The Derivative Meals:
How it happened
Not every dish needed reinvention. For instance, the vegetarian dish improves the next day, like a curry, so reheating was all it required. I devoted my attention to these items:
- The roast duck, roast pork and barbecued pork.
~ I wouldn’t just reheat and eat these the next day. After refrigeration, solidified fat appears and roast meats become less appetising.
- Raw tiger prawns.
~ I was greedy and bought more than required for the stir-fried prawns in Taiwanese BBQ sauce. I have a soft spot for rudely fresh tiger prawns.
- The ocean trout.
~ I’d bought a whole, fresh ocean trout from my mate Sandy, who filleted and skinned it for me.
~ The fillets were destined for my Yu-Sheng lucky raw fish salad.
~ The head, carcass and skin were left. I wasn’t about to discard these remnants. They overflow with miracle-working omega-3 fatty acids!
Leftover #1: Roast Duck
Debone duck. Scrape off and discard fat. Reserve bones.
Duck Derivative Dish #1 – Duck salad.
Duck meat, carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts, tomatoes.
Plum sauce, lime juice, fish sauce, pepper.
(When I buy roast meats, they usually come with a container of plum sauce. We inevitably have leftover sauce that can be put to good use.)
Fried shallots, peanuts, sesame seeds, green onions.
Duck Derivative Dish #2 – Duck sushi-of-sorts
Duck meat, cucumber, hoisin sauce.
This went into the kids’ school lunch as a Chinese New Year special.
Duck Derivative Dish #3 – Glass noodles in duck broth
Chicken, baby king mushrooms, cloud ear fungus, baby bak choy, green onions, fried garlic.
Duck Derivative Dish #4: Duck broth congee
When boiling rice in the broth, add a fistful of rolled oats for a silky texture.
Chicken, green onions, fried shallots, garlic oil, pepper.
To make duck broth:
Boil duck bones with water in a pot for an hour, or in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes.
The stock will be imbued with savoury, roasted flavours.
Pictured below are my Secret Kitchen Weapons:
(1) Pressure cooker. (2) Fat-removing skimmer.
Other ideas for roast duck
You’ll see the first two usual suspects at Chinese restaurants.
- Sang choy bow. Duck meat fried with diced water chestnuts and other veg, served in lettuce cups.
- Fried egg noodles with duck.
- Herbal duck broth.
- Thai red curry of duck with coconut milk, lychees and vegetables. Our household fave!
Leftover #2: Prawns, roast pork and barbecued pork
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking, B1?”
“I think I am, B2!”
With leftovers like this, I cannot help but make that old chestnut…fried rice. The kids hoover it up.
Dice roast pork and barbecued pork. Dry fry the roast pork on medium heat. The wok will become slick with flavoursome oil in which to fry the remaining ingredients (garlic, onions, cooked rice, prawns, carrots, eggs, sweetcorn).
Okay, okay, sweetcorn in fried rice is about as authentic as stock cubes in chicken rice. But I had fresh corn lying around. And the kids are partial to it. Also, I get a kick out of hearing the corn popping in the scorching wok.
Leftover #3: Ocean trout head, carcass and skin
Fish Derivative Dish #1: Miso soup
Boil fish stock with miso paste to taste. Using fish stock as a base adds a whole lot of flavour and nutrients to the miso soup.
Cubed silken bean curd, green onions, fried shallots, sesame seeds, grilled seaweed sheet.
Fantastic for the young (growing brains) and the old (healthy heart and joints).
Making fish stock
Boil head, carcass and skin with a few slices of ginger and two whole green onions. That’s it.
When I make fish stock, the fat-removing skimmer stays hidden in the drawer. With ocean trout skin thrown in, this stock is so full of omega-3 fatty acids that a minke whale could barge in and mistake it for a krill snack.
Fish Derivative Dish #2: Ocean trout sushi rolls
After fishing out the bones from the stock, I harvest the meat from the head and carcass. Texturally, this meat is like mashed canned tuna. Most of the taste has gone into the stock, but I like:
- dipping this in soy sauce, as an accompaniment to rice, or
- adding it to sushi rolls (using cooked fish is safer for lunchboxes).
To add flavour, I smear ssamjang in the sushi roll.
Ssamjang is Korean bean paste with chilli, garlic and other flavourings, usually sold in a green box (see top right of pic).
When eating Korean barbecued meats, you often get a leaf wrap, onto which you smear ssamjang, add a kimchi morsel and a piece of meat. Ssam = wrap; jang = paste. The green colour of the box helps with the vegetable-wrap association.
Waste not, want not.
Guess what happens to broccoli stems, coriander roots and loaf crusts in the merciless hands of the Queen of Leftovers? Well, they don’t end up in the bin.
Remember, you heard it from FITK first, before Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson got into the act.