This is an installment of NPR's Cook Your Cupboard, an ongoing food series about working with what you have on hand. Have a food that has you stumped? Share a photo and we'll ask chefs about our favorites. The current submission category: Freezer Finds!
Korean-American chef Edward Lee gives suggestions for how to use canned olives and noodles — ingredients that have eluded David Hobson of Frisco, Texas. Hobson submitted his dilemma to Cook Your Cupboard. Lee wouldn't touch Hobson's third find, canned mackerels, but he does give a tip on how to use Korean spices.
The Food: Olives
Hobson once bought a can of chopped olives, he says, thinking he might someday incorporate them into a dish — to no avail.
The Fix: Dip!
Lee suggests making a dip by pairing the olives with ricotta cheese.
Pulse the olives and the ricotta in a blender and add some other herbs — like dill, parsley or chives — or add roasted red peppers until you get a chunky, textured dip.
If it needs a little bit more salt, just add some of the juice that came with the olives and pulse again until it's well-mixed.
Serve it with Melba toast, crostini or vegetables.
The Food: Mystery Noodles
Hobson seems to have no idea where they came from — nor where they should go.
The Fix: A Dish Best Served Cold
Make a refreshing summer entree by soaking the noodles in cold water first, then blanching until soft.
Then put them back into ice water and serve cold.
You can always make a pad thai sauce by mixing peanut butter, coconut milk, spices and fish sauce together and adding the mix to the noodles.
The Food: Fried Mackerels
The Fix: Actually, Lee passed on this one, but did have some ideas for another submission: some surplus Korean spices posted by Rachel Rottersman.
Bonus Tips: Spice Things Up
Korean spice blends can also be used in dips or seasoning for meat.
Roasted-hot-pepper paste can be mixed with any sort of vinegar at a 2-to-1 ratio — with a bit of lemon juice, sugar and sesame oil — to make a fantastic sauce for hamburgers, noodles and anything else.
Seasoned soybean paste is similar to the Japanese miso, Lee explains.
He recommends miso-smothered chicken: Pan-fry some chicken, mix in a big, thick spoonful of soy bean paste, some chicken stock and butter until it smoothes out to a gravy consistency.