Some recipes work well, some less so—and some just plain stink! It's especially hard to justify using all those beautiful (not to mention expensive) ingredients just to have them wind up in the trash. So, whenever possible, we try to salvage the rejects for staff lunch. (Hey, we're in publishing, and lunch in New York City can really add up.) Sometimes no amount of finagling can make up for a crummy recipe, but sometimes it can. (It can't, however, make up for the wasted time and energy, but that's another rant.)

I recently made some seafood dumplings that weren't all that good; the filling was a bit bland and tight, and the lobster sauce (albeit tasty) was too rich and sweet-not piquant enough to contrast with the sweet seafood. Plus, the recipe made something like five dozen dumplings and a pint of sauce. And I only really needed four servings. It was the inverse of that corny early-bird-restaurant joke, about the food being awful AND the portions being small.

So I had all these dumplings leftover—but I had killed two lobsters and peeled and deveined a pound of shrimp. They deserved to die an honorable death. A quick steam and a toss with a spicy dipping sauce (à la Grand Sichuan—try their shrimp dumplings, after the board of health actually gives them the green light to reopen), and they were redeemed. (The extra lobster sauce became the base for a quick bouillabaisse with some leftover lobster, some shrimp and some striped bass that just happened to be lying around.)

Chinese Dumpling Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Chinese chile garlic sauce, or more to taste
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

Combine everything and let the sauce sit for 10 minutes before using.