Asian-style stir-fried vegetables don’t reheat well especially if the sauce had been thickened with starch. The sauce thickens considerably after chilling overnight in the fridge and it has to be reheated gently to prevent the starch from scorching. The problem with gentle reheating is that it takes long and the length of time turns the vegetables soggy. Steaming gets rid of the scorching problem but doesn’t help with the soggy vegetables issue.
What’s the best way to reheat stir-fried vegetables then? For me, it’s by recycling and creating a new dish with it.
For instance, last weekend, I grilled chicken for us omnivores and then I cooked an all-vegetable chop suey (the Filipino generic term for stir fried mixed vegetables) for vegetarian Sam.
The chop suey was thickened with cornstarch to create added texture (texture being primordial in my vegetarian cooking). But I cooked too much than what we could consume and I had leftover chop suey. Not much, just a small bowl of the stuff, probably enough for one person. The following day, instead of reheating the leftover chop suey, I tossed it with cooked noodles.
This package of wide wheat noodles, we bought at a Chinatown grocery store. Fifty pesos (a little over USD1.00) for 388 grams. What you see in the wok below is just half of the contents of the package. You can use any kind of noodles, of course. This is just FYI for the kind that I used.
So, to transform leftover stir-fried vegetables into a gorgeous noodle dish that doesn’t look nor taste recycled, start by taking the leftover stir-fried vegetables out of the fridge. The closer it is to room temperature, the shorter the time it requires to get reheated.
Then, cook the noodles according to package directions.
Make your basic sauté. Cook onions, garlic and ginger (or your preferred combination which may even include some chilies) until fragrant. If you’re adding meat, do it at this point. Make sure the meat is sliced thinly so that it gets cooked in a few minutes. Season well. When the meat is done, add the noodles, season then stir fry until heated through. Note that you’re seasoning prior to adding the leftover stir-fry for two reasons:
1. You want to create a new combination of flavors so that you end up with practically a new dish. In short, not just different in looks but also different in taste and texture.
2. You can’t rely on the seasonings in the sauce of the stir-fried vegetable dish to season the noodles. The noodles and the leftover stir-fry will have very little time to interact with each other because the stir-fry will be in the pan only long enough to heat through. That’s really the trick to not having the vegetables turn soggy.
So, you have sautéed, you have meat, you have added the noodles to the pan, you have seasoned the noodles and they are very, very hot. Now, add the leftover stir-fried dish and, working fast, stir and toss to distribute the vegetables. The thickened sauce should immediately turn thin as it touches the very hot noodles. It should take only about a minute to heat the vegetables through.
And that’s it! A gorgeous noodle dish made with leftover stir-fried vegetables.