I’ve pretty much inherited the way my mom gets all annoyed and antsy whenever the fridge seems to be full to the bursting – not with fresh food but with leftovers – wee bits and pieces of food stored in every nook and cranny of the refrigerator, pretty much occupying space that would better be put to use for fresh fruit, cartons of milk, or the sort of breads and cheeses my parents have become fond of.
Over the weekend, I pretty much took stock of the stuff in the fridge and had to sigh over the lot. Not so much out of dismay, but in these frugal times, one pretty much has to believe in the statement of wasting not and wanting not. There was so much potential in there; so many viable ingredients that could be put to good use. Cases in point:
- Take-away French fries These can be utterly vile when reheated, but they’re wonderful when chopped up and used for Spanish-style torta de patatas or for adding to dishes like menudo or Japanese-style curry. Here’s a neat trick to turn tinned milkfish sisig into a meal: saute a finely chopped red onion in the oil from the tin till softened, add the diced fries and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the sisig, then cook for a couple of minutes and serve over rice;
- Take-away chicken nuggets Chop these up and add to stir-fries or to add meaty goodness to instant ramen or ramyeun;
- Leftover corned beef hash Stir leftover hash into tinned mushroom soup with some cream and use as a sauce for baked pasta as shown above;
- Leftover roasts Chop these up fine and add to stir-fries or mix into ready-made mashed potatoes to form a base for croquettes. If, like me, your family has roots in either the Visayas or in Pampanga, leftover roast pork (and even deep-fried pork belly [lechong kawali] can be stewed down with sweetish liver sauce, vinegar, peppercorns, and bay leaves for a classic paksiw na litson.
The following recipe is the end-result of cleaning out the fridge last Sunday. If you love spicy food, this one’s right up your alley. Incidentally, if you’re somewhat tender-tongued, be sure that you get a Japanese curry roux of the lowest possible heat. Otherwise, turn up the heat!
- 2 Buffalo chicken wings, deboned, meat and skin shredded
- 1 cup leftover French fries, diced
- 1 small red onion or 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 cube Japanese curry roux
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 cups cooked rice
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it sizzles, add the onion and cook till softened. Add the chicken and potatoes and cook for a couple of minutes. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Add the curry roux and stir till it dissolves. Lower the heat and cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally, till the curry thickens. Divide the rice between two bowls. Ladle the curry over the rice and serve immediately.