have you ever had this nagging feeling of what to cook whenever a festive season is around the corner? what mood do i want to create? i want it to be different but not too overwhelming for my guests....who am i inviting? what is the occasion? are they adults or children? big eaters or mousy eaters? well there is room for everyone... read on.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Leftovers Simply Delicious!

Festive leftovers like roast turkey can become a fresh turkey salad overnite or even hmm turkey soup! What about our daily leftover dishes, for example, braised pork belly, chicken stew, steamed chicken otherwise known as white cut chicken, chicken braised in soya sauce, roast duck or even BBQ pork belly. I certainly will not put them to waste, no way, its too precious. Leftovers like what I mentioned earlier can be transformed into a heart-warming appetizing hot pot called "Chai Boey" or "Choy Keuk". This dish is churned from all the meaty leftovers from a huge festive meal eg. Chinese New Year, Big Birthday Cookouts or just a little home entertaining dinner. Today's post was made possible by my darling sister who started off by cooking a pot of her delicious braised pig trotter in turnips and carrots yesterday. By the way, that was really good and simple too. Braised Pig Trotter with turnips and carrots 1 pig trotter (chopped into small chunks) - blanche in hot boiling water for 5 minutes to get rid of impurities then seasoned with dark soya sauce, light soya sauce, sugar, oyster sauce, salt and pepper.

5 medium size turnips cut in chunks - I forgot to snap a photo of them, they were gorgeous! 2 large carrots cut in chunks 5 cloves of smashed garlic 1 big onion cut in wedges 8 -10 dried chilis (soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and drained) Heat olive oil in a claypot, put in the garlic and onion. Sautee till fragrant. Sear the chunks of pig trotter, adding a little hot water as you go along. Put in all the turnips, dried chilis and carrots and bring to boil for 10 minutes. Simmer on low heat for 40 minutes. (Important note : make sure the carrots and turnips are in big chunks, if they are too small, they will all melt away by the end of the 40 minutes)

We couldn't finish all of it cos we were all so stuffed! Then my mobile market guys came a honking... what a blessing his van was filled with fresh vegetables, he had preserved salted mustard greens (kiam chye or ham choy), lots of choy sum fa (flowering cabbage), pow choy (chinese round head cabbage) and on and on. Just then, our Chai Boey dish is born! I just cannot resist but blog it! Here goes...

The leftovers from the above dish and half a frozen roasted duck from the freezer.

3 huge clutches of choy sum fa, 2 packets of perserved salted mustard greens, 5 bird eye chilis, 8 dried chilis (soaked in hot water and drained), 2 sour plums and 1 1/2 Tbsp assam paste.

Salt, sugar, light soya sauce, dark soya sauce - all these use according to the taste you like. Sometimes the leftover dishes may be salty or some may be spicy so put your tastebuds to the test. Same goes for the chilis in this dish. Some may like kai choy (bamboo mustard cabbage), it gives it a slightly bitter taste to this awesome hot, spicy, salty, sour and sweet dish.

Bring 2/3 of water in a 5 litre pot to boil. Put in roasted duck, leftover braised trotter, sour plum, dried chilis, bird eye chili, assam paste and boil for 1 hour. I use the vision ware 5 litre pot that does not dehydrate much and also try not to use metal pot as the sourness in this dish may not go well with metal.

Pre-soak the preserved salted mustard greens in water to make sure most of the salty taste is gone before putting them into the simmering pot. Simmer for another 40 minutes and cut off the heat. Leave it covered on the stove overnite. Reheat the next morning and put in the cleaned fresh vegetables and boil for 20 minutes then dig in!

I especially like the turnip bits in the chai boey cos the taste of the dish really got soaked-in. By far, this is one of the best dishes my sis makes real well. Sorry to say I can't get the taste just right... there is so much to consider, spicy, sour, salty, sweet and balancing them needs lots of practice. I will just continue to eat.

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I'm Audrey from Somewhere in my kitchen, Malaysia.

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