Working With What You Have: Last Week’s Take-out
Sometimes even we food bloggers get take-out. It’s such a New York delicacy that it feels unduly austere not to take advantage of it at all. And as long as you’re careful with the menu and exercise some form of self control, things from paper and plastic containers can sometimes be just as budget friendly as supermarket shopping.
I have an obsession with Hunan Delight in Park Slope, which I count not only as the best Chinese food in my neighborhood, but even as some of the most delicious food to come out of a takeout container—ever. Of course I can’t speak for Hunan’s entire menu (though I’ve heard others speak passionately for Sesame Chicken and Pork Buns), because I always only get two things: Cold Sesame Noodles and Broccoli in Garlic Sauce. I also get the brown rice. One time I tried the scallion pancakes and one time I dipped my chopstick in the Sesame Chicken, but adventurer though I may be in other areas of my culinary life, when it comes to this menu, I can’t but stick with what I know.
I also can’t get through an entire portion of either the broccoli or the noodles. The two dishes plus the rice can sometimes even last me four days, though the final meal will sometimes be based on two sad spears of broccoli floating in sauce (see photo, above). However, after a three-meal-long take-out fest, I’m usually aching to cook again anyway. Recently, on a Thursday after a Sunday of take-out, I took advantage of the nicely dried out brown rice and the remaining broccoli and sauce to make an excellent main dish fried rice.
Fried rice, like rice pudding cereal, was a standard in my family’s dinner repertoire. It’s one of those leftover dishes that doesn’t quite feel like leftovers, since it really is different than what came before. A case of the sum transcending its parts?
From my kitchen, where take-out is transformed, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Broccoli-in-Garlic-Sauce Fried Rice
Serves: variable, depending on leftover quantity
To make fried rice without any leftover broccoli, simply substitute your choice of stir-fried vegetable–anything from scallions to mustard greens to carrots–and follow the directions as listed, using a teaspoon or so of soy sauce instead of the sauce from the broccoli.
Leftover Brown Rice
Leftover Broccoli in Garlic Sauce—cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
about 1 cup mustard greens, washed well and chopped
Coat a nonstick wok or large pan with cooking spray. Set it over high heat. Add the onion and stir fry for about a minute, then add the garlic and stir fry another minute or two more, then throw in the mustard greens and stir fry until wilted.
Add the rice and toss it around so it all gets slightly browned and parts even get crispy. Add the broccoli and however much sauce you desire (careful here: that stuff can get greasy), then push the whole mixture over to the side, and crack the egg into the hot pan. Mash it around until it’s cooked, then add hot sauce to taste and mix the whole thing together. Serve immediately, then finally deposit your take-out containers in the recycling bin.