“What’s Cooking” in Victor’s Kitchen

Leftover. How many of you will have a leftover?

What will you do with your leftover food? Will you threat them as scrap and put in the bin? Or, feed to your pet? Or will you put in a plate or bowl and glad wrapped, then put in the fridge?

I never throw my leftover food. I will save them for tomorrow and the next few days. I will pack in a tupperware container for lunch in the office the next day. I will reheat them for dinner. Or, I will create something out of them so it will be a new dish.

I remember growing up in Penang – when I was a boy, my parents will buy “Chai Boey” (in Hokkien, which literally translate into English as “Vegetable Tail”!) to accompany mum’s other home cooked dish. “Chai Boey” is a dish where all leftover food unsold in previous day are mixed in a big pot and slowly cooked with “Kiam Chai” or chinese preserved mustard greens and some dried chilies. The dish is salty, spicy with multi layers of flavours and textures. It is very addictive and I can never get enough of it. Always want more. The principle behind “Chai Boey” is never waste your food.

On our way home today from work – an hour drive, 60 km away. The weather was still good. It was hot, about 25 degree Celsius. My partner asked, “What are we having for dinner?”

I said, “Leftover”

“WHAT?” he asked.

“Leftover balls!”

“Got 7 balls. How many do you want?”

“Two is enough” he said.

“Okay, you can have two balls!”

“How are you going to cook them” he asked.

“Some noodles.  In soup”

“No! I want my stir fry” he said

You can fry yourself!” I said.

That was our little conversation all the way home. The rest of our trip was a quiet drive, taking in the beautiful scenery of remote country side Tasmania.

When we got home, I ransacked the fridge and cupboard. Took out a pot, filled with water. Put on high heat on the stove to boil. Removed the leftovers – a bowl of balls in broth, a bowl of stir fry pork meat with puff tofu and shredded cabbages, a packet of dry vermicelli noodle and a bowl of ginger, spring onion dipping sauce.

I reheat the bowl of balls in broth on medium heat. And, the bowl of pork meat in a saucepan with 2 scoops of the ball’s broth. Covered and reheat in medium heat. Then I filled a bowl with tap water and soaked the dry vermicelli to loosen the noodles. Removed and put in boiling water, which I have heated earlier. The noodles were then drained and rinsed in cold water and set aside.

Next I heated a frying pan. Poured some olive oil. Tossed in the noodles and mixed through with the bowl of leftover ginger and spring onion sauce. Tossed in leftover pork meats. Mixed through. Then served in a bowl with some of the balls on top, with a small teaspoon of sambal oelek.

There is some leftover from the leftovers. So I scooped the rest into a tupperware container for lunch at work tomorrow. This is the tail end of my foodtrail of leftovers.

Flashback to the last couple of days.

1. Minced pork balls with shiitake mushrooms, ginger, spring onions, preserved mustard greens.

2. Slowly poached in home made chicken consomme from the previous night.

3. Served in a small bowl with chinese cabbage and broth.

4. Oven baked pork leg with plums. My partner cooked this for our neighbour. Served in plum jus. There was so much leftover meats – that I sliced into small bite pieces and stir fry with puffed tofu and chinese cabbages.

5. Ginger and spring onion dipping sauce. Made from finely chopped ginger, spring onion with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. I used the sauce for chicken rice with a bit of chili sauce, light soy sauce and sesame oil. There was half a cup of leftover which I used to flavour my vermicelli noodle in tonight’s leftover creation.

I have used up all my leftovers from the last few days.

The cycle repeats – grocery shopping, cook new dishes, reuse leftovers until the last bit of leftovers are used up.

Never let your food go to waste.

Not even a grain of rice on the plate. My mum would repeatedly said to me when I was young. Never leave a grain of rice on the plate or I will marry a girl with pimples! Now that I reflect back to what she had said. It was funny and ridiculous. I believed her so much that I did my best not to leave a grain of rice on my plate. But, I never did marry a beautiful girl with perfect face! Or did I

So, what is your view of eating leftover food? Is there anything wrong with eating leftovers?

10 responses to ““What’s Cooking” in Victor’s Kitchen

  1. Victor – I love leftover:-). If you open my fridge right now, there will be at least 2 or 3 different leftover. Sometime I’ll turn leftover into a new dish, but most of the time I’ll just simply reheat and eat it.

    As a little boy growing up in Laos, I still remembered the things my grandpa (Ar Gong) taught me on dinner table. He would explain the difficulty process of growing the rice. Ever since that day, I always make an effort not to leave a grain of rice on my plate.

    • Seeharhed – you called your grandpa “Ar Gong”. That sounds almost the same as “Ah Kong” – refers to my grandpa. My mum’s dad came from Fujian Province. Are your ancestor from China?

      • Victor – It is the same word.. “Ah Kong” as grandpa. I am not so sure which Province that my grandpa came from. His life as a journey man started when he was 5 years old. He left his parents and brother behind in China, sailing down the MeKong River with his uncle. Their final destination was Laos and that’s where they all started their new life. He end up marrying a laotian woman(grandma) whom last name we still use til this day. Unfortunately grandma pass away when my dad was still a young boy. Grandpa raised 5 kids as single dad and never got marry again. As my parents prepare to make an escape from Laos, they asked grandpa to come along. His replies to my parents was… I’ve been running away since I was five.. He knows that if he left Laos, the chance of him coming back to Laos is slim. His wish was, he wants to die in Laos, his adopted country. Not long after we settled in the States, he pass away. It is so hard for me to write this reply, it also took awhile too. I miss him:-).

        • Thanks for sharing, Seeharhed. Your grandpa must have quite an impact on your life growing up. I cannot imagine what you and your family must have gone through during the war and having to find refuge in America, away from your motherland. But, then story like yours and many others must be told so history does not repeat itself. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Indeed, very sad. I hope one day we get to meet. And, that you will share as much of your story as you can when you make your next trip back to Laos (which is soon). I will be checking your blog. Cheers.

  2. Never leave a grain of rice on the plate or I will marry a girl with pimples!

    Victor, my mum said if I left a grain of rice in my bowl I would marry a boy with holes in his face! I think the meaning here is the same. ;oP

    I think it is funny, my mum now never eats leftovers, they always go to waste, but I always eat my leftovers at work. So whenever I am at her house, I used to take all the leftovers home with me!

    • That’s so funny, Steph.

      I wonder where our parents got that story from? Like who invented such silly story to make us children eat our food and not leave a grain on the plate. LOL!

  3. Hi Victor – The first time I had dinner over the missus’s parents, my mother in-law didn’t even refill by bowl of rice until I eat every single grain of it. I thought that was a weird custom. So I began picking them up one by one with my chopstick to there amusement. Later they told me, just add some soup to the bowl and slurp down the whole thing. 😆

    • LOL! Dallas. It must be our Asian culture. Interesting that we live in different country in Asia, and yet our tradition growing up is quite similar when it comes to discipline and upbringing of children, and eating at the table. Cheers.

  4. Hi Victor,

    I heard the same thing at the dinner table when I was growing up. That’s why I don’t leave any food on my plate. But guess what that did to my waistline! LOL!

    But I have to say it’s very hard to try to get my daughter to following the same discipline as she doesn’t understand the value of food, or what it feels like to go hungry. That’s the disadvantage of bring up an only child….

    I do love my leftover reheated for lunch as you might recall from our time working together. Nothing beats a hot yummy lunch eaten at the comfort of your office without having to step foot ouside! I receive many a compliment at the kitchen from my co-workers for my great-smelling mouth-watering lunch, and I am sure you do too….

    • Hey Poay – that is so funny, isn’t it?

      Know what, so far only Asians have commented on their upbringing and discipline from parents not to let food go to waste and the “scary” thoughts of marrying an ugly wife/husband. LOL!

      Like all my other cousins that were Australian born, they are as Aussie as they get – so same with your daughter. I cannot imagine her picking the last grain of rice off her plate. LOL! But, luckily she loves Penang and the food, and not wanting to come back here. Watch out! 🙂

      I wonder what my other Aussie food bloggers think. None of them have commented. Maybe thinking our Asian custom is a bit weird to scare off children from not finishing the food. Anyone like to comment on this?

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