Leftover stir - fry – mei chum siu chow

Leftover stir - fry – mei chum siu chow

Hong Kong Diner
Kris Kirkham

Hong Kongers place great emphasis on creating as LITTLE WASTE AS POSSIBLE when it comes to cooking. And while this flags up concepts such as sustainability, I think this waste-free culture is more about our undying LOVE FOR ALL THINGS EDIBLE. Wasted food, after all, means something delicious will end up somewhere else, other than in our stomachs – a punishment in and of itself which perma-hungry people like myself are keen to avoid. Here in the UK, the issues surrounding food waste are finally starting to come into the spotlight on a national scale. But no matter what the agenda – whether it’s people in need or depleting resources that you wish to focus on – I have found that keeping a waste-free mentality can truly work as inspiration to make for A GREAT MEAL. A simple example: recently while at a dai pai dong in Hong Kong, one of the best dishes we tried was actually called a ‘leftover stir-fry’ on the menu, which changed every day, depending on what needed to be cooked so it didn’t go to waste. Literally translated from mei chum siu chow to mean ‘beautiful delicacy small stir-fry’, it certainly feels like A THING OF BEAUTY to use every last bit of available food, turning it from something ordinary into a delicacy worth writing about.


Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon dried shrimps
2 garlic cloves
1 large fresh red chilli
1 stalk pickled pak choi
300g chinese garlic sprouts, (swapsies: wild garlic or garlic shoots)
100g cleaned baby squid
1/2 tablespoon cornflour
11/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

The sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon chilli bean sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
100ml vegetable stock
1 teaspoon pure sesame oil


  1. Soak the dried shrimps in hot water for 15 minutes, then drain in a sieve.
  2. While the shrimps are soaking, finely slice the garlic. Finely chop the red chilli, dice the pickled pak choi, and set aside separately. Cut the garlic sprouts into 3cm lengths, then blanch them in boiling water in a wok for 3 minutes. Drain in a sieve, then put them into a bowl of cold water to stop them overcooking. Lightly score the squid bodies diagonally, then cut them into rough chunks, place them in a small bowl or ramekin and mix with the cornflour (cornstarch).
  3. Mix together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  4. Now build your wok clock: place the garlic at 12 o’clock on the plate, followed by the red chilli, then the squid, blanched garlic sprouts, pickled pak choi, dried shrimp and finally the sauce.
  5. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok to a medium heat. When smoking hot, add the garlic and stir-fry until golden brown, then add the red chilli and turn the heat up to high. Once smoking hot again, add the squid and sear, turning everything over once or twice to combine the flavours. Keeping the wok on a high heat, add the garlic sprouts, pak choi and dried shrimps, stirring continuously.
  6. After about 30 seconds, stop stirring and allow the wok to heat up even more. Once smoking hot again, pour the sauce into the wok and bring to a vigorous boil. Stir-fry for a further minute, and serve.


  • Advice here is to keep the garlic, chilli, sauce and pickled pak choi in the recipe. No matter what other meat or veg you use thereafter, you are bound to make any stir-fry taste outstanding and unique with this simple combination of flavours. If you are going fully vegetarian, swap the oyster sauce for vegetarian stir-fry sauce.
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