Foodstuff: I love leftovers

Katherine Roberts
Leftover chicken fried rice.
Katherine Roberts/Courtesy photo

I have mentioned many times throughout my tenure as your semi-friendly, local food columnist how obsessive I am about leftovers. I love morphing ingredients and making something new and delicious.

And with the resurgence of the Spaghetti Assassin in my life (who is an exceptionally good cook, by the way), my recipe repertoire has expanded exponentially. When he texted me on a random weekday afternoon, asking whether I had eggs (naturally) sesame oil (duh), and soy sauce (What am I, an amateur?), I was intrigued. I suspected Asian would be on the menu, which I don’t cook that often, but love as a quick and easy after-work meal.

He showed up with a couple of takeout containers, a bag of marinated chicken, fruit, and a few other aromatics. I busted out my ancient wok, purchased during another life spent in San Francisco. I am proud to report that Spaghetti Assassin gave this underutilized cooking tool extremely high marks.

Serves 4
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken**
1 c low sodium soy sauce

Ginger, peeled, smashed, and finely chopped (about a one-inch piece)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 c canned pineapple chunks and their juice, divided

2 c rice***

1 c frozen peas and carrots (from the freezer aisle)

4 scallions, sliced, separating white and green parts

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2T sesame oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Marinate the chicken in the soy, ginger, garlic, and half the pineapple for at least 30 minutes or up to two hours. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Reserve the marinade, and set aside. Grill chicken for approximately 15 minutes or until it’s no longer pink in the center.

Meanwhile, heat sesame oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add all other ingredients, except the green parts of the scallions, tossing until lightly browned and well-incorporated. Add cooked chicken and leftover marinade****, letting rice brown further and reducing marinade.

Garnish with sliced green scallions, and serve.


* Spaghetti Assassin is more of a free spirit than yours truly, so this “recipe” is my approximation of what happened, including our lengthy car ride discussion about why recipes are useful.

** We used one chicken thigh and one chicken breast; the thigh went in the rice; and the breast was saved for another use (my quesadillas!).

*** Shoutout to Bangkok Happy Bowl, which was delighted to donate its leftovers for the cause!

**** If I had to do this over again, I would reduce and thicken the marinade separately in a small sauce pot, then add it at the last minute to keep the rice from being overly-saturated.

We magically morphed two portions of Bangkok Happy Bowl rice into meals for days. I used a separate portion of the leftover chicken (Set the breast aside!) for a banging quesadilla later that week during a quick working lunch. This recipe makes a lot of food, something I (and my waistline) have noticed about the Assassin’s cooking routine.

The caveat: I may be a decent cook, but I never claimed to be a food photographer (My oeuvre leans more toward pictures of my Yorkie). This fried rice was even better the next day, crisped up in a pan using a little bit of avocado oil, but it’s almost impossible to photograph well. So, it looks bad, but it tastes great — trust me, and give it a try!

Katherine Roberts is a mid-Valley-based writer and marketing professional who should be knee-deep in off-season wine and taco tasting when you read this. She can be reached via her marketing and communications firm, Carington Creative, at

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