Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Leftovers, Asian Style

Having played with fire and not left any delicious ducky leftovers for lunch today, I thought I'd talk about one of my tricks to reviving that carton of fried rice you shoved in the back of the fridge over the weekend.

So everyone has ordered too much Chinese food and then had leftovers that don’t quite rejuvinate back to an enjoyable state. I mean, we've all tried to nuke fried rice and ended up with some soft and some hard and crunchy grains. (Or cook it in a pot with a little water, but then the flavor dilutes and the rice ends up soggy.) It's not very enjoyable, and most of it gets thrown away in the end.
If you want to take the next step past nuking w/ a bit of water in the microwave, here is my method for bringing Asian leftovers back to tasty, tasty life.  (I opt for a non-stick pan for this.)
*This works best with things like fried rice or lo mein, but I recently did this with some leftover Thai Chow Fun and it was great.

Ideal step one: Sauté a fresh vegetable to restart your dish. My Thai food had a Chinese broccoli in it, so I used regular broccoli. (You know you picked out most of the tasty bits the first time you ate it.) You could also use grated carrot & cabbage, or anything that relates to what was already used in the dish..

I sauté the veg in a very small amount of both evoo (or veg oil) AND sesame oil. Be very sparing with the sesame, because that stuff is super strong, but it will help tie in and refresh the flavor of your leftovers.
Once that has cooked a bit (for broccoli it’s probably about 5 minutes) I drizzle with a tiny splash of soy sauce, but then I throw in about 1/4 cup of water. This will sizzle but the point is to create steam to soften up your leftover rice, etc.  Let the water sizzle a moment or so and then toss in whatever leftover rice or noodles you are trying to reheat. Stir it up and move it around until the water is dissolved/evaporated and your food looks just about ready to remove from the heat. (If you're reheating rice, you may want to cover the dish for a minute to steam, and then cook off the excess liquid.)

That is when you add in a beaten egg or two. There is almost always egg in any stir-fry that you get, and let’s face it: as I said before, you totally ate most of the good parts out of your rice/lo mein when you first ordered it, so you need to put something else tasty and protein-based in your leftovers. An egg works perfectly. If you are reheating fried rice, throwing in some frozen peas at this point is a good move as well.

Check your seasonings, as you may want another splash of soy sauce, but otherwise, your leftovers should have come back to life and be ready to eat at this point. 
As the carton tells you, Thank You & Enjoy!


Joe Ambrosino said...

Excellent ideas! I often make eggs and whatever myself,but the trick of adding some fresh vegies related to the dish is genius, imho.I like to add a good splash of Sriracha Chili Sauce, as well.

RocknRollGourmet said...

Mike and I are not hot-sauce people, but I can absolutely see how that would also be a good enhancement!

Melissa's Espresso Shot said...

Thanks for the great ideas! My husband and I always end up with leftover Chinese food that we can never get to taste edible the second time around. I'll give this a try next time we have leftovers.

Living Shallow, Living Well said...

Mine always ends up in the back of the fridge, where I find it a month later when it stinks.

RocknRollGourmet said...

LSLW - the only way I can help you after a month is to suggest lysol or some other cleaning agent to wash that shelf of your fridge... ;)

Erin said...

Great tip! And I am seriously envious of your left over eating abilities. First off, if I even make out of the restaurant with the lefovers (I think we've discussed this, lol) then much like LSLW, they end up in my fridge for a month. Kudos to eating your leftovers and getting crafty w/ them. Don't let my husband find your blog, he might start holding me accountable!

Sassy said...

You are totally a genius and the more I read your blog the more I think you NEED your own show.

RocknRollGourmet said...

I DO need my own show! Complete with Hair & Makeup people. Just as long as I don't have to be as chipper as freakin' Rachael Ray. She's good at what she does, but no amount of coffee will make me that chipper.
I will perform admirably on Mimosas.

When you are famous, Sassy, you will hook me up.
That ain't a question ;)