Or how to save a batch of overcooked noodles.
I don’t know how many of you have realised that I despise wasting food – whether on my plate or otherwise. Thanks to watching-and-learning from my mother, I often cook in quantities which are bound to be too much for the number of people eating. But I can’t help it. With my parents’ constant entertaining at home, I am used to having extra rather than fall short of food for the guests.
And we would eat those leftovers for ages afterwards, or convert them into something else or even give them away to the help. But I can hardly remember a time when I have just trashed the leftovers. Even now, I often over-eat just to finish a greedy extra-large helping, or something that I don’t like.
AK has slightly different views and doesn’t have any qualms about wasting if he doesn’t like something or he greedily helped himself to too much! He would rather discard than eat too much and make himself tummy sick. In fact he doesn’t even like to repeat the same dish or eat leftovers back-to-back at all. I have to admit that I do understand where he’s coming from and there’s no black & white answer to the dilemma! So I compromise.
If I can convert leftovers or disastrous experiments into something palatable and different altogether, I will serve the new dish to him. Or else I will personally finish or give away the rest without imposing it on him. I even look the other way if he hasn’t wiped his plate clean. It works.
Recently, I was making a batch of Burned Garlic Noodles for AK, but got distracted by the bell and the noodles boiled well beyond the al dente stage. Rendered useless for the dish I wanted to make, I allowed them to cool and put them away in the refrigerator overnight while I boiled a fresh batch for that night’s dinner.
Having slept over the disaster, I came up with the idea of making cutlets out of the noodles (much in the same way that one might make potato or cottage cheese cutlets) and adding some vegetables to the mix. So that’s exactly what I did.
Here’s what I used for 7-8 (if you’re making these as appetizers/ finger food, then you can make them smaller and get 16-24 as well):
200 gms egg-noodles (over-boiled, or not)
2 medium carrots
4 spring onions, with the greens
1/2 cup of frozen sweet corn
4 green chillies
2 tsp burned garlic
1 tbsp soy
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp ajinomoto/ MSG (you can substitute it with salt to taste)
1/2 cup dried bread-crumbs
Oil, to shallow fry
Here’s how I made them:
First, I transferred the noodles from the fridge to a mixing bowl and allowed them to return to room temperature.
Then I defrosted the corn in the microwave and drained the extra water.
I diced the carrots and spring onions and cut the green chillies finely and added them to the noodles.
Then I crushed the burned garlic and pepper and added them to the noodles.
The ajinomoto, red chilli powder and soy…
Then I mixed and mashed it all up together till well combined. The more mashed the noodles get, the better the cutlets will stick together.
The mix became more compact in volume after the mashing. I cracked one egg into the mix and mixed it up well.
Then I started shaping the cutlets and dipped one into the bread-crumbs. But after a test fry, I decided to mix the breadcrumbs into the mix and then shape them. They held better.
Like I said, this was my test fry cutlet and many flakes of breadcrumbs and noodles broke off into the oil. So I mixed the breadcrumbs into the mix and shaped the rest.
While the oil was heating for shallow frying, AK fixed us drinks! I had an iced tea and he had a green apple cooler!
I heated the oil in a skillet at high heat. During frying, I reduced the heat just a notch to medium-high. Once the oil had heated and the test cutlet had done it’s job, I fried the rest in 2 batches of 3 cutlets each. They took approximately 2-3 minutes on each side, just until they were golden.
Draining them on a paper towel, I served them up with fried eggs (obviously) and toasted bread! Lots of ketchup, BBQ sauce and mustard on the side…
There you go! Simple, tasty, not-so-healthy-but-worth-it salvage from disaster!