In the news this week there was lots of talk about how much fresh produce gets thrown away, not only by the supermarkets but also at home. We discard about 7 million tonnes of food per year, half of which is perfectly edible! It’s not completely our fault alone, but supermarkets have responded to what they think we the public want to buy. This means demanding spherically shaped apples that fit snugly in a cellophane packet, asking for identically sized berries, or perfectly smooth photo-worthy carrots. A lot of the food that gets rejected for aesthetic imperfection is absolutely palatable, perhaps even more so than what we bring home in our shopping bags. So what can we do to reduce not only food waste like salad, vegetables and fruit, but also save some money and energy at the same time? Shopping at our local farmers’ markets, or finding locally sourced and naturally grown produce will help of course, and resisting the urge to splurge on multi-buys that will end up eventually in the bin seems an obvious solution, but there are many ways of using up unused produce, and spicing up leftovers.
Our wise and wonderful head chef Jeremy has a few ideas up his sleeve as to how to creatively and deliciously use up those extra vegetables and uneaten cooked meat;
"Chop it all up nice and fine.... add light soy sauce, sesame oil and a pinch of sugar... mix... wrap in a spring roll...a wonton… or a gyoza.
Curries are also a wonderful way to use up any odd vegetables, using store cupboard spices and condiments. A Malaysian laksa is also perfect for this time of year. Any leftover bits that are savoury can be thrown into a stock, then added to a coconut curry base. The best flavours come from things like the ends of spring onions, bits of onions, the skins of onion or garlic and the stalks of herbs.
Beef Brisket Noodle soup is another one of my favourite ‘leftover specials’. Add any scraps to a beef brisket or bone stock - even other bones like fish or chicken bones can be chucked in for extra depth of flavour. Seasoned with Chinese spices and pour it over the noodles. In Hong Kong, where this dish originated, the best time to have beef noodle soup is at 2am as it has had all day for the scraps to be thrown in!
An alternative idea for repurposing your Sunday Roast Beef is slicing it thinly and using it for an Asian Beef Salad, with chopped pak choi , soy, mirin, sesame and olive oil dressing. Traditional English dishes don’t have to remain in the same genre as leftovers, so don’t be afraid to try something different!"
So braise those bamboo shoots, bung in some black beans, stir in that soy, and lettuce eat and enjoy!
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