Ugly leftovers and the stir-fry solutionI’ve been trying to figure out why the food I’ve been cooking at home for the past few months has gone so tasteless.
Have my taste buds changed? Or have my hands?
In the heyday of my cooking life ―back in college ―I had people looking over my shoulder every time I prepared something in the kitchen, fondly waiting for me to offer them a spoonful of crab stew or whatever I was making.
But recently something has changed. My cooking has deteriorated over recent months to the point that a couple of nights ago I ended up dumping half of the soup I fixed for myself in the sink.
As I was watching it go down the drain, the realization hit me hard. I was no longer cooking with a full heart. Ten years ago I felt free as a bird. Now I feel pressured to eat everything in the fridge before it goes bad. This often leads to a horrible half-baked goulash ―mushy vegetables dumped into a pan of rice and sliced Spam. I called it a fusion fried rice.
How strange. Back in my 20s, my fridge was full of food. But when I cooked, I ate every bite with a sense of joy. Perhaps this was because it was precious to me ― I was a student, and had little money.
Now, I can afford to buy more, but I don’t enjoy cooking, life or anything as I once did.
I grew up in a generation that was taught that throwing away food was morally wrong. These days, not wasting food is emphasized for environmental concerns, but hardly anyone seems to care except housewives who recycle.
As an adult, I feel guilty just looking at all the uneaten food that has accumulated in my fridge after a week of eating out. It gives me a thin sense of relief to dump it in the trash can, thinking that it will at least feed pigs.
But the more I feel pressured to eat the food in my fridge, the more I avoid cooking at home by going out to eat. What a vicious cycle. By the end of the week, I have a table full of bad food that I force-feed to myself. Then what happens? I write columns like this ― a bunch of words tossed together like my fusion rice.
Nevertheless, it is the best way to clean out your fridge. Although I have never tried this, a friend of mine who is an adventurous eater says that tabasco sauce with fried rice is fabulous. Another friend told me that he made stir-fried noodles with his leftover spaghetti.
But since you are what you eat, maybe it’s time for me to eat proper food and live a proper life.
How to Cook
Tuna-cheese fried rice
Ingredients: 1 can of tuna, 100g kimchi, 50g each of carrots, onions, mushrooms, green pepper and pizza cheese, 300g of cooked rice, a dash of salt, sesame seeds, a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
1. Strain the canned tuna. Dice the kimchi.
2. On a low heat, pour oil into a pan. Add the diced vegetables.
3. Add the rice.
4. Add the cheese. Stir nicely, and serve with sprinkles of sesame seeds.
by Park Soo-mee