Monday, July 21, 2008

Rice Noodles Stir-Fry (Bihon Guisado) - A Leftover Delight

Be forewarned by the title. This dish is simply a medley of leftovers.

Is it just me? Or do you also experience leftovers? Do you sometimes have a small amount of leftover cooked foods that are too small to be considered one serving? And, by left-overs, I do not just mean left-over foods that we cook ourselves, or from take-outs, but also a little of unused ingredients, here and there. For example, you buy a bundle of carrots, only to use 1 or 2 sticks for a recipe then, stuff the rest in the refrigerator until they languish into oblivion?

Long before the "going green, zero waste" revolution, my grandmother would practice zero waste in her kitchen. This is probably because she has first hand experience of World War II (sounds so long ago?), and the difficultly in rebuilding life in the aftermath of the war. She knew how it hard life could be, such that even when we were already living in the times of plenty, she would train us to be cheapskates and not to waste anything - specially food!

Thank God for grandmothers! Now that the world is experiencing a food crisis, I think my grandmother's training is worth it! I am trying to be more conscious of our food choices, food portions, food management and definitely, food left-over management. I have to be more creative: how to transform leftover foods to leftover delights.

Here are some little things from my refrigerator this weekend: 1 stick of carrot, 2 small bell peppers, a small amount (probably around 1 cup) of leftover pork stew (adobo) with bamboo shoots, the meats (laman) of a Soup No 5 (this is a popular soup here with 5 major ingredients. Will do a post on that soon!), some Bok Choi (pechay) leaves ... definitely Bihon Guisado material.

Bihon is a type of thin rice noodles (Pancit) very popular here in the Philippines but definitely it has Chinese origins. The name itself came from the Chinese words "rice flour." Guisado literally means stew, but in this case, it is used loosely for stir frying as well. This dish is easy to cook, and very versatile. You can use any kinds of meat or seafood. You can use any kinds of green leafy vegetable. That is why any leftovers can be used. If you do not have any leftovers, you can simply add fresh ingredients. The flavoring sauce are simply made from soy sauce, fish sauce (patis), and the finished dish is sprinkled with calamansi (Philippine lime).

I made the dish extra special by adding a can of Chinese Pork Leg Stew, and some slices of shiitake mushrooms.

1 pack (around 250 gms) Rice noodles, washed, soaked for around 10 minutes
1 C leftover meats (or fresh chicken meat, or seafood)
1 can Chinese Pork Leg stew
5 pcs dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water to soften, sliced
1 stick carrot, peeled, sliced
2 bell peppers, seeded, sliced
1 bunch Bok Choi (pechay)
4 T cooking oil
4 T garlic
3 slices ginger
4 T soy sauce
1 C water
salt and pepper to taste
slices of calamansi

1. In a wok or cooking pan, heat up some oil and saute ginger until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant but not burnt.

2. Add the Chinese pork leg stew and mushrooms. Add in all the leftover meats as well. Stir around for a while. Then add the carrots and bell pepper.

3. Add in the cup of water and the soy sauce. When the mixture boils, add in the softened rice noodles (drain and discard the soaking water!). Mix everything up, making sure that all the rice noodles are mixed evenly with the sauce.

4. Continue stir frying and mixing once in a while until the noodles are cooked. Add in some amounts of water if the sauce dries up.

5. Serve warm with calamansi slices if preferred.

Because I did not have seafood in this dish, I did not flavor the dish with fish sauce (patis). Otherwise, the fish sauce would have added more flavor. Instead of bell peppers, you can also use cilantro or leeks.

Maybe somebody should start a Leftover Blogging event... any takers? :)


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