Eat To Live

Appetising dish from leftovers


After a festive season, you can transform the leftovers into a quick and simple meal

I don't know about you, but I feel almost virtuous whenever I am able to use up some leftovers in my fridge.

By this, I mean not just reheating the stuff and eating it, but transforming it into something different and appetising.

For example, last night's dinner was a Korean-style stew and who could have guessed that it contained gravy that was saved from another stew, and meat, leftover and frozen from an earlier meal.

I added fresh ingredients - tofu, greens, dried mushrooms and black fungus - and flavoured the dish with dollops of Korean chilli paste.

It went in a flash and no one recognised the origins of the fiery stew. Such ideas are invaluable, especially after a festive season, when leftovers fill the fridge.

Indeed, what is that Chinese braised dish of mustard greens with roasted meats that invariably appears at Chinese New Year but another time-honoured way of using festive leftovers?



    3 to 4 bundles of egg noodles (or thick rice noodles, if you are gluten-intolerant)

    1 Tbs peanut oil

    ½ head of white cabbage, shredded

    1 to 2 roasted chicken legs (or any cooked leftover meat), skin removed, meat shredded

    3 to 4 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

    Salt and pepper


    Sliced red chilli

    2 stalks spring onions, chopped


    1. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the noodles for a minute, till they are softened but still retain a bite.

    2. Drain and leave aside.

    3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the shredded cabbage till it softens.

    4. Add the shredded meat, then the noodles.

    5. Season with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Toss well to combine.

    6. Garnish with red chilli and spring onions.


Here is another recipe - cabbage noodles - not so lavish, but practical and healthy, thanks to the addition of cabbage. Half or a whole head of the vegetable can be used, thinly shredded.

The meats from an earlier meal can be stir-fried with noodles and cabbage, all lifted with Worcestershire sauce. An unexpected ingredient in Chinese food, the bottled sauce is essential, for it cuts through the tired flavours and perks things up.

Cabbage noodles is... simply al dente noodles fried with leftover meat, freshened with cabbage and flavoured with Worcestershire sauce. It's a quick and simple meal, ideal for post-festive eating.

You can use any leftover meat. I used a roasted chicken leg, as that was what I had in my fridge. While boiled meats are fine, roasted meats seem to retain their flavour better.

While some may doubt the nutritional value of eating leftovers, the addition of a whole head of cabbage balances it out.

Cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable, adds valuable antioxidants to the meal and is also high in vitamin C, soluble fibre, multiple nutrients and phytochemicals.

You can add as much cabbage as noodles in order to add a healthy crunch to the dish.

I am obsessed with this dish as I love Worcestershire sauce. The sauce is made from anchovies, vinegar, soya sauce, molasses, salt, sugar and tamarind, among other things.

You can use it in dressings, drinks, marinades and stews. I also like it drizzled on my fried eggs in the morning.

You can also find dribbles of it in Cantonese recipes for roasted ribs and, yes, noodles. I ate a version of these fried noodles at an airport lounge and its sweet, tangy flavours were so more-ish that I decided to replicate it later.

Cabbage noodles is one of my go-to dishes. It is simplyal dente noodles fried with leftover meat, freshened with cabbage and flavoured with Worcestershire sauce. It's a quick and simple meal, ideal for post-festive eating.

  • Sylvia Tan is a freelance writer and cookbook author. Her previous Eat To Live recipes can be found in two cookbooks, Eat To Live and Taste.


Green vegetables contain other beneficial nutrients such as iron, magnesium, folate and vitamin K.

They are both equal in terms of nutritional quality, which is why nutrition experts always recommend that you eat a variety of vegetables to get a variety of nutrients.

The dish also contains egg noodles, which are a source of carbohydrates.

Yellow noodles contain more fat than rice noodles - 3.4g fat vs 0g fat - but that does not make it a lot less healthy. There is no need to avoid it as long as you eat it in sensible amounts.

What makes the noodle dish, whether it contains egg or rice noodles, more or less healthy are the other ingredients added to it.

If you add copious amounts of oil or salt to it, it becomes more unhealthy.


  • (per serving: 381g)

    Energy: 387 kcal
    Protein: 28.2g
    Total fat: 13.7g
    Saturated fat: 3.5g
    Cholesterol: 110mg
    Carbohydrate: 37.6g
    Dietary fibre: 6.8g
    Sodium: 465mg

Peanut oil is high in mono- unsaturated fats, which is the good type of fats. Still, you must not consume too much of it as it is calorie-dense.

This dish is quite healthy as it is.

If you wish to tweak it slightly, you can use brown rice vermicelli to increase the fibre content and decrease the fat content.

For higher amounts of antioxidants, try using red cabbage instead of green cabbage.

  • Jaclyn Reutens, Dietitian, Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2017, with the headline 'Appetising dish from leftovers'. Print Edition | Subscribe