One-pot wonder

by Hedy Khoo, first published in The Straits Times, 14 Jun 2020

If you have a surfeit of food items that you bought during the circuit breaker period, here is an easy way to clear out your fridge and larder

Do you have too many food items falling out from your fridge and kitchen cupboards from overbuying during the circuit breaker period?

If you are running out of ideas on how to use up all the food you bought before they expire, here is an easy recipe for a Clear-Out-The-Fridge stew.

It is a one-pot solution to your food storage troubles. More importantly, it can help you avoid wastage.

There is no hard and fast rule on what you can put into the stew.

You can toss in meat, fish, seafood that you have in your freezer, leftover vegetables in your fridge, canned food from your larder - anything as long as it has not gone bad.

For fish and seafood - add them towards the end of the cooking time as they cook quickly. To avoid fishy odours, rub defrosted fish meat with a little white vinegar and salt, then rinse.

Frozen prawns can have a mushy texture after cooking. To counter this problem, marinate the thawed prawns in a little cornstarch and a pinch of sugar for an hour. Rinse them off before use.

For frozen meats, after defrosting, rinse then blanch briefly before adding them to the stew. Even for chilled meats, blanching them before use helps to reduce unpleasant odours.

Bones can go into making stock for an even more flavoursome stew.

I did not add seasoning to my stew as the ingredients lent sufficient flavour. Canned foods tend to have a high sodium content, so avoid using additional salt if possible.

Taste the stew towards the end of the cooking time and, if you must, season with salt sparingly.

For canned mixed vegetables and canned mushrooms which come in brine, discard the brine and rinse the ingredients before use.

Dried herbs such as oregano, parsley and thyme can lift your stew aromatically. Use them if you have some on hand or do without.

If the tomatoes are too tangy for your liking, balance them with a little sugar.

I find using a non-stick pot a convenient solution as I prefer to first brown the luncheon meat and sausages in the pot. I sauteed the chopped onion in the leftover juices and add just one tablespoon of olive oil to help the onions cook faster.

The onions and diced tomatoes form the base of the stew.

As I had leftover pizza sauce, mushrooms and pitted black olives from making pizza the day before, I tossed them into the stew.

If you have leftover carrots and potatoes, cut them into chunks and add them at the start. Let them cook for five minutes before adding the other ingredients.

Using so many ingredients at once results in a hefty pot of stew. Share it with your neighbours so that nothing goes to waste.

Clear-out-the-fridge stew


1 can of luncheon meat (397g), cut into 1.5cm cubes

3 sausages (284g), cut into 2.5cm pieces

1 large yellow onion (244g), chopped

1 Tbs olive oil

4 garlic cloves (17g), finely chopped

2 cans of diced tomatoes (822g)

1 sweet corn (300g), cut into six pieces

400ml water

218g purple cabbage, cut into 5cm pieces

75g sliced white button mushrooms

270g pizza sauce

1 can of mushrooms (260g), sliced

160g pitted black olives

250g canned mixed vegetables, discard the brine

100g frozen mixed vegetables, defrosted


1. Heat a non-stick pot over high heat and brown the luncheon meat. Remove the luncheon meat from the pot and set aside.

2. Brown the sausages and set aside.

3. Add the chopped onion and stir-fry over high heat for one minute. Add the olive oil and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.

4. Add the chopped garlic and stir-fry until the onion is softened.

5. Add the diced tomatoes and fry for one minute.

6. Add the sweet corn and water.

7. Add the purple cabbage and sliced white button mushrooms.

8. Add the pizza sauce and stir.

9. Cover and let the mixture cook for 15 minutes.

10. Add the luncheon meat, sausages, canned mushrooms, black olives, canned mixed vegetables and defrosted mixed vegetables.

11. Bring the stew to a boil and allow it to cook for three minutes.

12. Switch off the heat.

13. Serve hot

Serves 10


This article is produced in partnership with ST Life.

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