Thursday, January 28, 2010

Repurposing ingredients



Here's how you can repurpose ingredients e.g. char siu marinade can be just as great on salmon! Or repurpose dinner leftovers for lunch. I'll also share my experiments for quick, weeknight dinners (often cooked in my cast iron wok!)

I can't resist taking photos of every meal I eat, so do check back frequently.

Most weeknights, I practice what I preach:

Use what's in my fridge and put a simple meal together.

Jan. 25 Lunch: Tempeh marinaded with San-J tamari and Huy Fong chili sauce grilled and put on top of field greens. I often pickle tomatoes, chayote and onions so they don't spoil. I'll add them to my salad and top with salad dressing like Le Sandwicherie's delicious Vinaigrette. Also had toast with fried egg for extra protein.

Jan.25 Dinner: Grilled Salmon slathered with leftover Char Siu marinade. Just because it's usually used on pork, it doesn't mean you can't use it on fish like salmon. The marinade had honey, tamari, 5 spice powder and chili garlic sauce giving it a nice, crispy texture and keeping it very moist inside.

I stir fried Shanghai bok choy, snow peas, red bell peppers, scallions, cilantro. Also added leftover stir fried baby portobello mushrooms with dash of tamari, lime juice on top of the best fettucine (tasted like fresh, meaty and chewy, yummy!) I will provide brand when I next visit Wholefoods, definitely worth a try if you like pasta.

Jan.28 Lunch: I repurposed leftover Cuban bread from my breakfast when I attended the Entrepreneur Magazine's Growth Conference 2.0. (I didn't realize they were providing breakfast.) If you own your own business, this online and magazine is a 'must read', very inspiring entrepreneurs. I hope to be featured in this magazine when I'm ready. I'm a subscriber and keep all the issues for useful resources and reference. I'll be posting about this conference soon - all the speakers provided tons of information you can apply instantly.

I grilled the bread and topped with bacon and crumbled goat cheese. I always have a crunchy salad, used up pickled tomatoes, chayote and onions with more Le Sandwicherie's vinaigrette and topped with more tempeh.

Jan.28 Dinner: I defrosted a slab of Costco's flap beef steak marinaded with lime juice, tamari and chili garlic sauce. This is a lovely cut for wok stir frys, very tender and delicious. I'll grill this and have with the last bit of field greens and huge beefsteak tomatoes and sweet onions from Laurenzo's Market. Photo later tonight.

Well, this is what being a Wok Star is all about! I changed my mind about serving salad because my husband likes hot food for dinner, he's so Asian. See what I mean about using the same ingredients(tomatoes and onions) to make marinara sauce instead and wholewheat penne. Many would be horrified cooking marinara sauce in their cast iron wok because it's acidic. It does dry it out a bit but you just have to wash out with hot water and oil it a bit with paper towel. The minute you start cooking in it, your patina will build up immediately, so not to panic.

I had to turn a baking tray upside down so the flap steak and pineapple had closer contact to the heat in the grill! You need high heat to give your steak a good sear.

I added the juice from the grilled pineapple and steak into the marinara sauce and heated up again, you can see the change of color in the sauce.

Flap steak with penne, marinara sauce and grilled pineapple.

Jan.29 Lunch: Quinoa salad with field greens, tomatoes, Redlands big head onion, goat cheese with Le Sandwicherie's vinaigrette. I made lunch for Johnson & Wales culinary graduate who's assisting me.

Omelet with tamari and squirt of canola oil makes it fluffy and soft.
Choice of Lingham's chili sauce or salsa verde or both!

Forgot to add crumbled bacon from yesterday. Also had leftover tempeh if I wanted. If you always have a variety of proteins and veggies in your fridge, you'll have options to make something with them.

Chicken Soup and burnt garlic bread, oops

Feb.4: This dinner is the best example of "repurposing ingredients" i.e. using ingredients in a different way. I had defrosted skinned, deboned chicken thighs and planned on making soup to clear my head cold. I found potatoes, carrots, kale and scallions in my fridge, so that was the basis of my soup. I wanted to bulk it up a little, so I rehydrated some dried Chinese mushrooms. Once I started with the Asian ingredients, I decided to add more "dried" ingredients, so rehydrated Goji berries, lilly stems and fungi.

That's the brilliance of having dried veggies always in stock - great as backup. I think my mom would cringe at the idea of mixing potatoes in this mostly Asian soup. But, I think that's the beauty of being a creative cook plus also "repurposing ingredients". Do whatever you want that makes you happy. I can hear Top Chef judges saying things like, 'there's a disconnect with your ingredients". Phooey, I don't care, they worked for me and that's what matters.

I love this square spoon from CB2 (Crate and Barrel) but have to say it's a bit awkward drinking soup with it. I'm sure they were not for drinking but I just wanted to try it. I got 2 for a friend's birthday recently and he was so "tickled" when he opened his present. He loves sushi, so I'm interested to see how he'll use them. I'll be posting that soon.

Last minute, I decided to make my version of garlic bread. I didn't want to melt butter with garlic, so I just diced the garlic and sprinkled on top. I love my Russell Dexter Chinese Chef Knife, it's just the perfect feel and weight for all the chopping I do. I even use the base of the wood handle to thwack my ginger chunks for making soups (not necessary to peel or slice) and see how I transport my diced garlic to my bread?

Wow, grilling is so FAST, I was adding in kale to the soup and next thing I know, garlic smells were drifting up and poof my poor garlic bread got burnt but still good. My husband loves this kind of dinner.

Love to hear any strange East meets West ingredients you've used in one dish...

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