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Salvage a Dish Gone Wrong and Still Make It Taste Good

Trying out a new recipe or two? Brilliant. Don’t worry if you mess something up – here are some of our most fabulous fix-it tips to salvage any dish that goes array. No one will ever know!

The Experts:

Lin Weixian, pastry chef and owner of Bonheur Patisserie

Ken Chia, chef-owner of Rice & Fries

Overcooked Pasta

Transfer it quickly to a bowl of ice water, then drain and chill to stop the pasta from getting any softer.

Chef Ken recommends making a cold salad with the overcooked pasta: Melt 150g grated cheddar (add more if you like it cheesy) in 1 cup of milk in a pot. Cool, then mix in 100g mayonnaise and toss the pasta in the sauce. Or for something lighter, mix olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and shallots to make a vinaigrette for a pasta salad with boiled chicken or tinned tuna, teamed with veggies like cherry tomatoes and olives.

Mushy Potatoes

Did you leave the potatoes to cook for too long? Rather than making a mash, try your hand at homemade gnocchi. Mash up all the spuds, then mix in plain flour and a pinch of salt and pepper until you get a malleable dough. Knead and roll the dough into a rectangular log. Cut out 3cm long pieces and press a fork lightly against each piece to create a pattern. Cook in a pot of salted boiling water with a bit of oil until they float, then dress the gnocchi with a cream or tomato sauce.

Stew Too Salty

If it’s a beef stew, adding canned tomato puree helps – the sourness of the puree neutralises the saltiness of the dish. Alternatively, whip up a noodle or pasta dish with the over-seasoned gravy, which flavours the plain carbs quite nicely. If the gravy is way too salty, strain the cooked meat and set it aside. Now add some raw meat (first seasoned with salt and pepper, coated lightly with flour and pan-fried lightly) into the stew together with more water or stock, and cook until the meat is tender. Then, mix the first batch of meat back in and cook for a while more.

Overcooked Prawns

Make wonton with them. Dice the prawns and mix with minced meat or fish paste (available in the chiller section of major supermarkets), chopped water chestnuts, spring onions and coriander leaves. Spread on wonton wrappers and either bring to the boil in chicken stock for a quick soup, or deep-fry for a yummy pre-dinner snack for guests.

Overcooked Broccoli or Cauliflower

Make a creamy soup with it. Saute some onions until they are soft and caramelised, then saute vegetables like spinach and green peas (optional), and mix in the mushy broccoli or cauliflower. Add enough chicken or vegetable stock to cover the veggies, bring to the boil, then remove from heat. Leave to cool slightly, then blend the mixture directly in the pot, using a handheld blender. Add 150ml cooking cream and a little butter and cook until fully incorporated, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Over-whipped Cream

The trick is to fold in more cream until it reaches the desired consistency.

Over-Done Steak

Chill it and slice it thinly against the grain (which cuts the meat in a way that makes it easier to chew), then use it to make a beef sandwich with mayonnaise, sliced onions, lettuce and melted cheese. It makes a nice starter for your party.


By Lim Tsiao Hui, Simply Her, January 2015

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