I don’t know about you, but I feel almost virtuous whenever I am able to use up some leftovers in my fridge. By this, I mean not just reheating the stuff and eating it, but transforming it into something different and appetising.
For example, last night’s dinner was a Korean-style stew and who could have guessed that it contained gravy that was saved from another stew, and meat, leftover and frozen from an earlier meal. I added fresh ingredients – tofu, greens, dried mushrooms and black fungus – and flavoured the dish with dollops of Korean chilli paste.
It went in a flash and no one recognised the origins of the fiery stew. Such ideas are invaluable, especially after a festive season, when leftovers fill the fridge.
Indeed, what is that Chinese braised dish of mustard greens with roasted meats that invariably appears at Chinese New Year but another time-honoured way of using festive leftovers?
Here is another recipe – cabbage noodles – not so lavish, but practical and healthy, thanks to the addition of cabbage. Half or a whole head of the vegetable can be used, thinly shredded.
The meats from an earlier meal can be stir-fried with noodles and cabbage, all lifted with Worcestershire sauce. An unexpected ingredient in Chinese food, the bottled sauce is essential, for it cuts through the tired flavours and perks things up.
You can use any leftover meat. I used a roasted chicken leg, as that was what I had in my fridge. While boiled meats are fine, roasted meats seem to retain their flavour better.
While some may doubt the nutritional value of eating leftovers, the addition of a whole head of cabbage balances it out.
Cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable, adds valuable antioxidants to the meal and is also high in vitamin C, soluble fibre, multiple nutrients and phytochemicals. You can add as much cabbage as noodles in order to add a healthy crunch to the dish.
I am obsessed with this dish as I love Worcestershire sauce. The sauce is made from anchovies, vinegar, soya sauce, molasses, salt, sugar and tamarind, among other things. You can use it in dressings, drinks, marinades and stews. I also like it drizzled on my fried eggs in the morning.
You can also find dribbles of it in Cantonese recipes for roasted ribs and, yes, noodles. I ate a version of these fried noodles at an airport lounge and its sweet, tangy flavours were so more-ish that I decided to replicate it later.
Cabbage noodles is one of my go-to dishes. It is simply al dente noodles fried with leftover meat, freshened with cabbage and flavoured with Worcestershire sauce. It’s a quick and simple meal, ideal for post-festive eating.
Get Sylvia Tan’s Cabbage Noodles recipe here.
Sylvia Tan is a freelance writer and cookbook author. Her most recent recipes can be found in two cookbooks, Eat To Live and Taste.
Text: Sylvia Tan/The Straits Times
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