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liuzhou

Chinese Vegetables Illustrated

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13 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

I am about to go stir fry some baby bok choy.  My mind has been sautéed.

 

 

Mine has been minced, pickled and and deep fried.

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Still on lettuce, I should mention that we do get what I, and probably you, think of as 'regular' lettuce. Sadly, only one type.

 

lettuce2.thumb.jpg.2af2ecf0474edb3840999b5f54ff6cd3.jpg

 

Romaine or Cos lettuce. Lactuca sativa L. var. longifolia. I do like the Chinese name. Just as 'whisky', derived from the Gaelic 'uisgebeatha' literally meaning ‘water of life’, the Chinese name for this lettuce is 生菜 (Mand: shēng cài; Cant: saang1 coi3), meaning ''vegetable of life' (literally 'life vegetable'.

 

I'm not sure how long you could live on just whisky and lettuce, though.

 

lettuce.thumb.jpg.4914490cc314794da468c9d7891f013b.jpg

 

Like most of the preceding veg, this is usually served wilted with garlic and oyster sauce, but rarely raw. It is also used in noodle or wonton soups.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Next, another of my favourites.

 

Ipomoea batatas - sweet potato shoots.

 

Although their origin is in the Americas, the sweet potato was introduced to China in the late 16th century and rapidly became popular. It didn't take the Chinese long to figure out that the shoots are even better than the root. In fact,  I don't really like the potatoes, but the shoots are great.

We only get the red skinned variety, so the Chinese name is 红薯苗/紅薯苗 Mand: hóng shǔ miáo; Cant: hung4 syu4 miu4), meaning 'red potato shoot'.

 

1604019637_sweetpotatoshoots.thumb.jpg.2e2847eba5c185c13c2652b23ad7a8bb.jpg

 

Again, usually stir fried with garlic and  maybe chilli or used in hot pots. 

 

I'll say more about the potatoes when I get to root vegetables, probably around 2053.


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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What do the sweet potato shoots taste like?  I've seen them in my local Korean/Asian store and have been curious, but not curious enough to take the plunge without hearing what someone else thinks!


Edited by KennethT (log)

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40 minutes ago, KennethT said:

What do the sweet potato shoots taste like?  I've seen them in my local Korean/Asian store and have been curious, but not curious enough to take the plunge without hearing what someone else thinks!

 

 

They taste green and almost spinach-like. Perhaps a bit more delicate. If you like any greens you'll like them.

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1 hour ago, KennethT said:

What do the sweet potato shoots taste like?  I've seen them in my local Korean/Asian store and have been curious, but not curious enough to take the plunge without hearing what someone else thinks!

 

As I remember, sweet potato belongs to the Morning Glory family botanically. They taste pleasantly interesting. Mild and with a hint of fragrance. 

Always tender and not fiber-y.

I grow them in my garden. A creeper and a climber. Massive supply of greens for stir fries. Can't eat them fast enough.

 

dcarch

 


Edited by dcarch (log)
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Tired at looking at all of this greenery? Here are a couple of only semi-green greens.

 

First up is amaranth. There are 70 different species, but the ones we get most often are  Amaranthus dubius.

 

amaranth.thumb.jpg.f5426c95fb8b2227837511cec19418b7.jpg

 

Quite distinctively red and green, this is a plant which grows worldwide and which is usually regarded as a weed, but in China is a well-liked foodstuff. And why not?

 

In Chinese it is usually 苋菜/莧菜 (Mand: xiàn cài; Cant: jin6 coi3), but is known in the local dialect as 汉菜/漢菜 (Mand: hàn cài; Cant: hon3 coi3) , which kind of means ‘Chinese vegetable’.  In  English and English renditions of Cantonese  it is red spinach, Chinese spinach,, spleen amaranth, hon-toi-moi, yin choy, or hsien tsai.

 

These leaves can leech red juices which colour everything they meet. For that reason it tends to be less frequently used in soups etc, but is simply stir fried. The taste is reminiscent of spinach (hence one of its English names). It is also packed with minerals and vitamins and general good things.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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15 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

Tired at looking at all of this greenery? Here are a couple of only semi-green greens.

 

First up is amaranth. There are 70 different species, but the ones we get most often are  Amaranthus dubius.

 

What?  Only seventy?

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Another not entirely green "green" is Perilla frutescens var. crispa.

 

Purple Perilla, 紫苏/紫蘇 (Mand: zǐ sū; Cant: zi2 sou1*) is a plant in the mint family used both as a vegetable and occasionally as a herb. It is a popular choice throughout South-east Asia and Japan as well as here in China.

 

Perilla comes in green varieties, known in Japan as shiso ( シソ ), but the popular choice round here is the ‘purple’ variety. In fact it’s not entirely purple.

 

1822307924_purpleperilla.thumb.jpg.e31bd40cff53a9002e851823fa586c71.jpg

 

As you can see from the picture below which is of one leaf, one side is green and the other purple. This trait and the leaves’ sawtooth edges help to distinguish it from other purple vegetable which are superficially similar. Amaranth leaves, for example are either entirely green or entirely purple and lack the serrated edge.

 

perilla2.thumb.jpg.64d0fd9d40b83727b766a07f654d8101.jpg

 

Perilla is generally simply stir-fried as a leaf vegetable with garlic and/or ginger and served as a dish to accompany others. However it is sometimes used as a herb, such as in this recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop.

 

It is important to know that cooking the plant causes the red/purple colouring to leech out. In many people’s eyes this makes the vegetable undesirable if mixed with other ingredients.

 

Of course, perilla is also used in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine). What isn’t? They reckon it boosts the immune system and alleviates the common cold. Probably does a better job in the latter case than the useless injections everyone insists on having. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, but they won’t believe me. They also think colds are caused by cold. Nonsense. They forget that every time they get a summer cold. But, I digress.

 

* Beware. The Cantonese name zi2 sou1 is also used to mean basil.

 

More on Monday.  I need a rest.


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Back to the greenery after a short respite. (I know I said Monday, but an event has been cancelled,so here I am.)

 

Lycium chinense

 

310275454_gouqicai.thumb.jpg.c0d35e35f49b7d42383f2cec9b2cc757.jpg

 

These are the shoots of the wolfberry plant also, more recently, known as the goji plant, source of the goji berries touted by every know-nothing "health expert" as a so-called superfood.

 

Known in Chinese as 枸杞菜 (Mand: gǒu qǐ cài; Cant: gau2 gei2 coi3, literally goji vegetable) or 枸杞叶/枸杞葉 (Mand: gǒu qǐ yè; Cant:  gau2 gei2 jip6, literally 'goji leaf').

 

Young  stems are also edible, but more normally the leaves are stripped from older, woody stems. They are simply stir fried or added to hot pots. Another good'un.

 

I'll deal with the separately berries in due course.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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1 hour ago, weinoo said:

Certainly no match for your project, @liuzhou, but Serious Eats tried with this...

 

The Serious Eats Field Guide to Asian Greens

 

Yeah, I read that some time back. It's good as far as it goes, but only 17 examples. I'm over 20 so far and  there are plenty more to come.

They, for good reason,  stuck with what is available in most Asian markets in the US. I'm trying to go wider and document every thing I see here. I'll never finish.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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I even see more than those 17 examples, right here in my neighborhood!

 

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On 10/19/2018 at 1:01 AM, liuzhou said:

However, there is apparently a variety of Basella - Basella rubra which does have red to purplish stems and roots. I've never seen it, though.

 

I grown both the green and the purple in my garden They taste the same. Very decorative plant. Every year, they self-seed. 

dcarch

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Now I come to what is one of the top two favourite greens round here.

 

Brassica juncea

 

Mustard greens, leaf mustard, Chinese mustard, Indian mustard, Oriental mustard, vegetable mustard, gai choy . Take your pick.

 

Most commonly 芥菜  (Mand: jiè cài; Cant: gaai3 coi3) but also sometimes 大菜* (Mand: dà cài; Cant:  daai6 coi3),  大芥  (Mand: dà jiè; Cant: daai6 gaai3) among others, in Chinese.

 

jiecai.thumb.jpg.33b4cd049fe78e41ac96d307359a6f5b.jpg

 

It is stir fried with garlic, chopped and mixed with pork for jiaozi and wonton fillings etc, used in hot pots and soups. A favourite soup round these parts is clam and leaf mustard soup - 车螺芥菜汤 (Mand: chē luó jiè cài tāng). So popular, in fact, that many supermarkets pre-pack their clams with the vegetable.

 

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Leaf mustard, as the name, suggests has a strong, but not unpleasant flavour. Much of this pungency is lost with excessive cooking.

 

The tuber and stems of this mustard plant are also, often pickled. The best-known example is probably 榨菜 (Mand:zhà cài; Cant: zaa3 zoi3) from Sichuan. This is the salt tuber which is then steeped in chilli paste and allowed to ferment. Similar to kimchi, but spicier. It is used in several noodle dishes such as dan-dan noodles, and also as a condiment with rice.

 

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Zhacai

 

Locally, we have this pickled vegetable made by the Zhuang ethnic minority** whiuch also used the mustard plant.

 

225430300_Zhuangpickledvegetable.thumb.jpg.cedbeb8bc19ac6ccbc09058eeb85b802.jpg

 

* 大菜 (Mand: dà cài; Cant:  daai6 coi3) is also the name for 'agar', the seaweed derived thickener.

** Minority in China; majority in Guangxi. They are the largest ethnic minority in China and most live here. Many of my friends here as Zhuang.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Ipomoea aquatica

 

Next is what I'm sure is the most popular. In every restaurant you hear people asking the wait staff "有什么青菜 (yǒu shén me qīng cài)? What greens do you have?" The answer always includes, or may even be limited to "空心菜  (Mand: kōng xīn cài; Cant: hung1 sam1 coi3)."

 

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This one also probably has the most alternative names. In English , water spinach, river spinach, morning glory, water morning glory, water convolvulus, Chinese spinach, Chinese Watercress, Chinese convolvulus, swamp cabbage,  ong choy or kangkong.

 

In Mandarin Chinese, 空心菜  (kōng xīn cài), 通菜 (tōng cài), 通心菜  )tōng xīn cài), 壅菜 (yōng cài), 瓮菜 (wèng cài), 应菜 (yìng cài), 藤菜 (téng cài), 瓮菜及葛菜 (wèng cài jí gé cài), among others.

 

空心菜  (Mand: kōng xīn cài; Cant: hung1 sam1 coi3) literally translates as 'hollow heart vegetable' to reflect its hollow stems.

 

kongxincai2.thumb.jpg.02b2250f80457e0fafdbb18a5cdb0292.jpg

 

Mildly flavoured. this one is, like so many, simply stir fried with garlic and maybe chilli, preferably in lard.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Nasturtium officinale

 

This is another one which I never associated with Chinese cuisine until I came here. It seems the Chinese agree with me. The most  common name is 西洋菜 (Mand: xī yáng cài; Cant: sai1 joeng4 coi3), which simply means "Western vegetable'.

 

What we are talking about is watercress. Despite the Latin name, this has no relationship to the flowers commonly referred to as nasturtiums.

 

Alternative Chinese names are 豆瓣菜 (Mand: dòu bàn cài; Cant:  dau6 baan6*2) and 水田芥 (Mand: shuǐ tián jiè; Cant: seoi2 tin4 gaai3), the latter meaning 'paddy field mustard'.

 

In Cantonese, 西洋菜 (Mand: xī yáng cài; Cant: sai1 joeng4 coi3) is also slang for 'foreign girl or young woman '. The things you learn on eGullet!

 

watercress.thumb.jpg.da36f32e7e802fda9b7a571dd4cc0c54.jpg

 

It is mainly fried with garlic, like so many greens, or used in soups, particularly those made from pork bones. I have never seen it in salads or seen a bowl of green watercress soup like I know (and make).

 

However it also comes dried to add to soups, and even with all the ingredients you need except water is a 'soup mix' pack. I've never gone there.

 

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Dried Watercress

 

561370265_WatercressSoupMix.thumb.jpg.60510dc47f1f2b9c28f5cb21a221751f.jpg

Watercress soup mix

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Came across a slightly different variety of round cabbage, this morning.

 

铁头白菜/鐵頭白菜 (Mand: tiě tóu bāo cài; Cant: tit3 tou2 baau1 coi3), literally iron (or hard) head cabbage. Mr Google knows nothing about it and so, neither do I. I don't suppose it is much different from the regular ones.

 

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Dicliptera Chinensis

 

Chinese foldwing is a Chinese herb/vegetable. Known locally as 羊肝菜 (Mand: yáng gān cài; Cant: joeng4  gon1 coi3), literally ‘sheep liver vegetable’, it is also known as 猪肝菜 (Mand: zhū gān cài; Cant: zyu1 gon1 coi3)or ‘pig’s liver vegetable’  among several other names. Despite this liverish nomenclature, it is used as a herb in traditional Chinese medicine to ‘strengthen’ the  kidneys, as well as for colds and fevers and “men’s problems”, whatever they may be.

 

It is also used stir fried as a green vegetable or in soups.

 

1703177907_Chinesefoldwing-DiclipteraChinensis.thumb.jpg.44dfe36ce2ed42b2e8dedaec3b6eee98.jpg

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Time now for onions and related items.

 

What we call onions is not always what the Chinese call onions. The base word for 'onion' in Chinese is 葱/蔥 (Mand: cōng; Cant: cung1), but used on its own, it refers not to what you may call an onion, but to a 'leek'.

 

What I call an onion is referred to as 洋葱/洋蔥 (Mand: yáng cōng; Cant: joeng4 cung1). They are common enough here, but 20 years ago they were very difficult to find. We nearly always only get red onions, but occasionally white onions turn up (as they did last week for a few days).

 

Onions.thumb.jpg.ad154aa3348c8f171d8c8b33f56d2eb2.jpg

 

The next few entries will help us 'know our onions', Chinese style. There will be tears before bedtime.

   

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Allium Chinense

 

荞头/蕎頭 (Mand: qiáo tóu; Cant: kiu4 tau4) are also known in English as Chinese bulbous onions, Chinese onion,[Chinese scallion, glittering chive, Japanese scallion, Jiangxi scallion, and Oriental onion.

 

They are mildly flavoured.

 

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The bulbs are also often pickled and served bat the start of banquets and wedding feasts to keep you going until all the guests arrive. I use the pickled onions a lot in a non-Chinese way - with cheese and in sandwiches. Good with chicken liver pâté, too. I have no respect.

 

185772626_Pickledonions.thumb.jpg.0260e25cdaef5766405e0ec780949c5c.jpg

 

 

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Allium ampeloprasum

 

These are, of course, what I, and probably you, call leeks. One of my favourite vegetables.

 

leeks1024.thumb.jpg.5046ba828e65ae878e588d632b20b77b.jpg

 

In my local supermarkets, they are 大葱/大蔥 (Mand: dà cōng; Cant: daai6 cung1), which means 'big onion'. There are also what are sometimes known as Chinese leeks. I'll get to them tomorrow.

 

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Look what I've done to my local store in order to bring you this topic!

 

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9 am.

 

 

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5 pm.

 

Actually, it's not down to me or you. It's like this every day. This is one of five vegetable shelving areas. They all look much the same.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Allium tuberosum

 

韭菜 (Mand: jiǔ cài; Cant: gau2 coi3) is known by several names in English including garlic chives, Oriental garlic, Asian chives, Chinese chives, Chinese leek etc.

 

jiucai.thumb.jpg.84e42af09c950ec7e0a0eec259cd4895.jpg

 

These also come in two other forms. Those above are the leafy stems. Left to grow a little. they develop flower buds. At this stage, they are sold as 韭花 (Mand: jiǔ huā; Cant: gau2 faa1) where 花 means 'flower'.

 

1227048793_jiuhua.thumb.jpg.1166f6d4dc8854f9f9886554f3314793.jpg

 

Then we have 韭黄 (Mand: jiǔ huáng; Cant: gau2 wong4), which are the stems  of the same plant, but grown under reduced light conditions so that they do not develop the green colour, but are yellow, the meaning of 黄. To my palate and nose, this technique also increases the garlic flavour and scent considerably. This is a good thing in my book.

 

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All of these forms are used to finish off stir fries and also frequently added to various forms of dumplings, especially jiaozi. I've seen the green stems pickled like kimchi and been served the yellow ones just as a vegetable side dish.

 

Also, the green stems (first picture) are often grilled over charcoal at road side stalls and sold for next to nothing. You can see them in the image below, taken at a roadside grill place in Nanning, Guangxi.

 

bbq.thumb.jpg.4d592560f15c97516372b3863289f1a7.jpg

 

Finally, they are used in pancakes in the same manner as scallion pancakes.

 


Edited by liuzhou added image (log)
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    • By liuzhou
      Perhaps the food-related question I get asked most through my blog is “What's it like for vegetarians and vegans in China. The same question came up recently on another thread, so I put this together. Hope it's useful. It would also, be great to hear other people's experience and solutions.
       
      For the sake of typing convenience I’m going to conflate 'vegetarians and vegan' into just 'vegetarian' except where strictly relevant.
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      After booking into the hotel, I set off for my favourite Nanning eating destination. Zhongshan Night market is a well known spot and very popular with the locals. I had forgotten that it was a local holiday - the place is always busy, but that night it was exceptionally so.
       

       

       
      It consists of one long street with hundreds of stalls and is basically a seafood market, although there are a few stalls selling alternatives.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       
      Filled myself with seafood (and some of that blood sausage above), slept soundly and, next morning, flew to Ho Chi Minh City.
       

       

       
      The rest of my trip can be seen here:
       
       
    • By Lisa Shock
      Years ago, when I visited Tokyo, I ate in a small but fascinating restaurant called 'It's Vegetable' which is now, unfortunately, closed. The chef was from Taiwan, and he made Buddhist vegetarian and vegan dishes that resembled meat. During my visit, several monks wearing robes stopped in to eat dinner. The dishes were pretty amazing. I understood some of them, like using seitan to mimic chicken in stir fry dishes, others used tofu products like yuba, but, others were complex and obviously difficult. One very notable dish we enjoyed was a large 'fish' fillet designed to serve several people. It had a 'skin' made of carefully layered 'scales' cut from nori and attached to the surface. Inside, the white 'flesh' flaked and tasted much like a mild fish. Anyway, apparently Buddhist fake meat meals are very popular in Taiwan and many places, cheap through to fine dining serve them. Yes, if I worked on it for a while, I could probably refine one or two dishes on my own, but, I am wondering if there's a Modernist Cuisine type cookbook for skillfully making these mock meats from scratch? (I have heard that some items are commercially made and available frozen there, much like soy-based burgers are in the US.) I am willing to try almost any offering, even if it's entirely in Chinese. And, I know how to use remailers to purchase regional items from the various local retailers worldwide who do not ship to the US.
    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
       
      The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and lead us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is  a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large".
       
      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
       
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
       
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.
       

       

       
      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
       
      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known  for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
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