Lasang Pinoy 15 (Recycled, Reloaded!): Cooking with leftovers
Chinese-style fried rice is not a Filipino recipe. Duh, that should be self-explanatory. Potato salad is not a native Filipino dish either. But paksiw is. Omelet…??? Hmmm… I’m not very sure. The term omelet is Continental but we do have our traditional version where chopped garlic, onions and tomatoes are stirred into the beaten eggs before pouring into the hot oil. What the heck am I talking about? Well, I’m talking about the dishes that I am featuring for Lasang Pinoy 15: Recycled, Reloaded!. Why am I including the Chinese-style fried rice and salad recipes? Because the way I understood the theme, it is not so much about traditional Filipino food but about the ingenuity of the Filipinos to make use of leftover food and to recycle them into great dishes.
Late last year, I bought a turkey. I chose the smallest but since there were only four of us to share it, we had leftovers. Lots of leftovers. The turkey fried rice and turkey paksiw are actually reposts–they were among the entries I lost in the great database disaster late last year. There never seemed to be a good reason to repost until now.
I think fried rice was invented to make good use of leftovers. Most people don’t know that leftover meats, small amounts of leftover vegetables and some eggs are all that are needed to make great fried rice. But while Chinese-style fried rice may look more impressive than plain white rice on a buffet table, it can be made even more impressive when served in more formal sit-down dinners.
See the fried rice in the photo? That was made with leftover roast turkey. Normally, with Chinese-style fried rice, the scrambled eggs are pan fried then rolled and cut into strips then stirred into the rice. I didn’t do that. What I did was to serve the slivered scrambled eggs as garnish. Second, I reserved the better looking pieces of turkey meat for garnish. The rest were stirred into the rice. I used a cereal bowl to mould the rice, pressing the fried rice into the bowl to pack it in, then I inverted the bowl onto a plate. I arranged the strips of egg and diced turkey meat on top, added some Chinese coriander leaves and that’s it!
For the basic fried rice, you will need cold cooked rice, minced garlic, diced onion and a medley of vegetables that will provide a good combination of texture and color to the dish. Favorites are chopped carrots, sweet peas and sweet corn kernels. But you can also use broccoli and cauliflower (cut into florets), onion leaves, string beans or even pechay stems. Then, you will need cooked meat (chicken, pork, beef, turkey, duck, ham or even sausages) and/or seafood (shrimps, fish, mussels, clams, crabmeat, etc.) which you will have to cut into small pieces. Fried scrambled eggs go well with fried rice. Just roll it up and slice thinly. Finally, there are the seasonings. To the basic salt and pepper, you can add light soy sauce and/or oyster sauce. If you want to be a little more daring, you can add some chili flakes. A drizzle of sesame seed oil adds a piquant aroma and flavor to fried rice.
How do you cook everything? You start with vegetable oil which you will have to heat. A teaspoonful of vegetable oil for every cup of rice should be a good ratio. Add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the vegetables and cook until tender crisp. Add the meat and cook just until heated through. Then comes the cold cooked rice which should have been mashed to separate the grains. Season then cook, tossing often, until the rice is heated through. Turn off the heat, toss in the egg strips, drizzle with sesame seed oil, stir a few times and serve at once.
Was there any more leftover turkey? Sure, there was. So, I cooked turkey paksiw.
Paksiw is the generic name for stews made with vinegar. It has a long history in Philippine cuisine because before there was refrigeration, vinegar acted as a preservative for prolonging the shelf life of meat and fish.
Paksiw is most commonly associated with lechon or whole roasted pig. A rather expensive dish, lechon is often served only on very special occasions like weddings and fiestas. And Filipinos are notorious for going overboard when it comes to party food. Since lechon is not much good the day after, leftovers are cooked as paksiw.
Cooking turkey paksiw is not much different from cooking lechon paksiw except for the substitution of turkey meat for the lechon. Cooking time is also shorter. And because you don’t have leftover lechon sauce, you will either have to use bottled lechon sauce or make it yourself.
leftover deboned turkey meat*
1 head of garlic, crushed
3 onions, halved and sliced
1/2 to 3/4 c. of vinegar
1/2 c. of dark soy sauce
8 peppercorns, pounded
3/4 to 1 c. of light brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 c. of meat broth
1 bottle of lechon sauce (about 1-1/2 cups) or 1/4 kilo of chicken livers or 1 can of liver spread
Cooking procedure :
*Unless you have a very heavy butcher’s knife at home, I don’t recommend chopping through the turkey bones.
Place the chopped turkey meat in a large heavy sauce pan, casserole or wok. Add all the ingredients except the lechon sauce. Bring to a boil. Stir well. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Pour in the lechon sauce and bring to a boil. Add more meat broth, if necessary. Adjust the seasonings. Some people like their paksiw more sour than sweet; other, just the opposite. Simmer for another five minutes. Turn off the heat and leave for the flavors to develop for another 10 minutes before serving.
If you’re using canned liver spread, stir the liver spread in a cup of hot water and pour into the cooking pot. Proceed as above.
If you’re using fresh chicken livers, cook the livers in a little salted water for a few minutes (they cook fast). Cool to room temperature and mash with a fork or puree in a food processor or blender. Pour into the cooking pot and proceed as above.
Top the paksiw with toasted garlic before serving.
Now, we go to that part of the year when Filipinos really go overboard with food–Christmas and New Year. If one can’t be creative with leftovers during the holiday season, it would really be wasteful.
It has been a practice with my family to have roast duck on New Year’s Eve. Last New Year’s Eve was the first time we didn’t have roast duck in so many years. You know, bird flu scare and all.
Anyway, we did have roast duck for New Year’s Eve in 2004. Since a duck is much smaller than a turkey, there were just enough leftovers to make a duck and potato salad.
Last Christmas, we broke a family tradition of NOT buying a whole leg of ham. No duck for New Year’s Eve, so why not a whole leg of ham for Christmas? Yeah, right, makes no sense hahaha. We had so much ham that we were eating ham-this-and-that until the New Year. I remember that the last dish I did was spaghetti using the ham bone for the sauce. We brought it to a friend’s birthday party and that’s why I remember–it was gone from the buffet table in a flash.
Before the bone stood alone (as the edited nursery rhyme goes hehehe), there was more ham than we cared to put between slices of bread.
Solution one: ham and cheese omelet.
Solution two: ham and chorizo fried rice.
And that ends my entry for Lasang Pinoy 15: Recycled, Reloaded! :grin: Hope you find everything useful, especially for the coming holidays.