Jazzing up pantry staples

Canned goods, instant noodles, frozen hot dogs are a godsend in times when going to the grocery takes a whole day. To make meals featuring shelf-stable staples much more exciting, many are becoming creative in the kitchen. 

CREATIVE CHEF. A few twists and a little creativity can turn any mundane dish using shelf-stable staples into an exciting meal anyone can do at home. 
There are those who amuse themselves by assembling the simplest meals fine dining-style, while others find new and exciting ways to serve pantry regulars. 

Culinary institution The Maya Kitchen offers simple suggestions on how to make the most of what we have in stock.

Canned sardines

Garlic Pasta with Spanish Sardines
A popular shelf-stable staple, canned sardines is a versatile item that can be used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes. 

Make tortang sardinas by adding eggs; whip up a quick tomato or oil-based pasta dish with sardines; throw in misua or sotanghon for a hearty noodle soup; or sauté canned sardines with preferred seasonings and serve on top of steaming bowl of rice or fried rice. 

Canned tuna

Tuna Sesame Toast
Heart-friendly canned good, tuna is another versatile item that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. 

Make a tuna spread using mayonnaise, onion, salt, and pepper and spread it on toasts or add to vegetable salad; turn it into patties by adding breadcrumbs and onions; or use it as a substitute to pork for a delicious but healthier version of sisig. 

Chefs tip: Whip up a creamy tuna pasta bake using Spanish-style canned tuna, fettucine noodles, condensed cream of mushroom soup, and frozen mix vegetables. Top with saltine crackers and grated cheese, and pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Instant noodles

Bulalo Ramen 
There is more to instant noodles than what’s written in the packaging. In fact, this pantry staple is one of the easiest to upgrade—just add a fried egg on top of the cooked noodles and it’s a whole lot better meal. 

Better still, add pork slices, eggs, nori, and miso paste to instant noodles to make a quick ramen; or do a Thai-inspired stir fry by using peanut butter for sauce. For a dish that’s closer to home, use instant noodles—preferably beef flavored—then add vegetables, sweet corn, and potatoes to make bulalo. 

Hot dogs

Corndog Bites
This kids’ favorite treat has long since established its place in the fridge. But aside from frying or steaming, it can be sautéed with onions and banana ketchup (add hot sauce for extra kick), or used as lumpiang shanghai filling (add cheese for extra flavor).

Create a Tex-Mex-inspired dish using hot dogs, canned or bottled corn, beans, salsa, and peppers. Or serve as corndog bites by dipping hot dogs in batter made with cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt and pepper for a fun afternoon snack. 


Chicken Burrito
One of the items quickly cleared out grocery stores is pancake mix, perhaps many are trying their hands at making those trendy soufflé pancakes. But while pancakes are great on their own—as a sweet treat drizzled with honey, or topped with fruits, or covered in peanut butter and jam or chocolate spread—it can also be enjoyed as a savory dish. 

Chef’s tip: Chop up some onions and cheese and mix in leftover shredded roasted chicken or chopped square ham bits. Use them as filling for pancake burrito. 

Home-bound self-proclaimed chefs can check out more recipes at 

Topics: The Maya Kichen , Hot dogs , Pancake , Instant noodles , Canned tuna , Canned sardines
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