Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Chinese Pickles and Preserves


liuzhou
 Share

Recommended Posts

Just now, Tropicalsenior said:

Thank you. Unfortunately, in Costa Rica have to buy whatever I can find.

 

Understand. I'm the same here with regard to most non-Chinese ingredients. I'd love to buy good olive oil, for example, but can only find oil from very dubious sources.

There is nothing wrong with the vinegar you have and it will be very suitable for the purpose in mind.

  • Thanks 1

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@liuzhou 

 

how are the two versions of cabbage treated

 

if one is using the bags you mention, from a local

 

Chinatown :

 

are they soaked to remove any salt ?

 

for is salt one of their features ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, rotuts said:

@liuzhou 

 

how are the two versions of cabbage treated if one is using the bags you mention, from a local Chinatown :

 

are they soaked to remove any salt or is salt one of their features ?

 

The two versions of suancai  are ready to eat. They are not usually rinsed or soaked. Both are simply chopped finely and served as I described. 

  • Like 1

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

6. 老坛笋 (lǎo tán sǔn)

 

If, like me before I came to China, you have only had bamboo shoots from a can, then you've never had bamboo shoots in all their glory.

There are many was to prepare them (some of which I'll get to later; some of which aren't relevant in this topic). But I'll start with one of the simplest. But not the simplest which is coming soon.

 

老坛笋 (lǎo tán sǔn) means 'old earthern jar bamboo shoots' which I think is pretty self explanatory. The bamboo shoots  are pickled in old earthern jars with rice vinegar and chilis. We like our chili hit round here.

982056760_1.thumb.jpg.d6a9a0cdea9a953c55e2b3aaeb3cf66d.jpg

 

They are usually sliced thinly into batons and either used in the paocai I described above or added to stir fries. Again the vinegar is considered to cut through fattiness of meats, but Chinese rice vinegar is milder than most, so the delicate, subtle flavour of the bamboo still comes through. This is one I buy a lot, but have never made.

a) I don't have an old jar

b) it isn't really practical to make for just one person living alone (but not lonely).

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
  • Like 3

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

bamboo shoots in all their glory.

Here in Costa Rica we have about 30 types of bamboo. I know that not all types are edible but are there more than one type that they use. And how do you know  which is edible?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Tropicalsenior said:

Here in Costa Rica we have about 30 types of bamboo. I know that not all types are edible but are there more than one type that they use. And how do you know  which is edible?

 

Yes, There are many varieties, not all edible. Most are poisonous unless prepared correctly. Arsenic.

I know which are edible because the supermarkets and markets tend only to sell those. Poisoning customers isn't usually good for business! 🤣

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been contemplating pickling for years, and have finally reached a place where I'm ready to take the plunge. The issue is, though, that I can't find a container I'm happy with.

 

I like the traditional Chinese design:

https://www.amazon.com/Traditional-Fermenting-4000ml-Gallon-Airlock/dp/B01FRBTU7K

 

But 50 bucks?!

 

There's also these:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/One-Gallon-Wide-Mouth-Jar-with-Lid-and-Twin-Bubble-Airlock-Set-of-2/194888232?u1=&oid=223073.1&wmlspartner=2z//F4WtKZw&sourceid=17269632240084465373&affillinktype=10&veh=aff

and, while I like the fact that, once the fermentation is over, you can swap out the lid and put it in the fridge, it's just not as sexy.

I'm in Northern NJ.  I have a pretty good local Taiwanese grocer, but cursory investigations haven't turned up anything.

Thoughts?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, scott123 said:

Thoughts

Have you ever thought of going to a Chinese restaurant supply store? We have one here in Costa Rica that sells all types of pickling crocks. There must be at least one within driving area of you.

Edited by Tropicalsenior (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

27 minutes ago, Tropicalsenior said:

Have you ever thought of going to a Chinese restaurant supply store? We have one here in Costa Rica that sells all types of pickling crocks. There must be at least one within driving area of you.

 

I could be wrong, but I don't think restaurants are pickling- it's more like a home hobbyist thing- like homebrewing.  I'm also not aware of any Chinese restaurant supply stores in my area (that would be awesome if there was).  But Restaurant Depot might have something.  Maybe. Thanks.

Chinatown (NYC) isn't too terribly far, but the tolls across the river would make for a very expensive crock.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, scott123 said:

I could be wrong, but I don't think restaurants are pickling

 

Well, they certainly are here in China. Most larger retaurants catering for weddings, banquets etc make their own paocai. What happens elsewhere, I don't know.

This plate of pickles was served at just such a restaurant here 10 years ago, as documented in this post.

One of my regular haunts only has five tables and also makes all its own pickles. My neighbours make their own pickles.

 

IMG_3998 (Large).JPG

Edited by liuzhou (log)
  • Like 1
  • Delicious 1

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

What happens elsewhere, I don't know.

Everything is made on the premises here, too. The ones here are pickled root vegetables because they don't have much choice in Chinese type greens.

Edited by Tropicalsenior (log)
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

Talking of the soy pickled garlic remind me of this.

 

Another type of preserved food.

 

1439840225_soysaucecuredbacon.thumb.jpg.8504a39a2e54216f76138cc60726d614.jpg

 

Soy sauce cured bacon.

That looks like very lean bacon. It looks more like the pork loin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

Most bacon in the world is more like that than American bacon. 

It sounds like something I would like to try to make. Is it cured and smoked?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

7. 榨菜 (zhà cài) - hot pickled mustard tuber


Sichuan is known for its pickle, but one in particular stands out. Again it's a type of mustard, this time Brassica juncea subsp. tsatsai. Only the bulbous tuber is used in what is termed 榨菜 (zhà cài), literally 'pressed vegetable'.

 

1024.thumb.jpg.cc8ba16783f40b87901d3c0e636c80aa.jpg

Zha Cai


The tubers are salted then pressed with a heavy weight placed on top. After some time (it varies) they are dried, then put into earthern jars with ground chillies and/or chili paste, Sichuan peppercorns and other spices and left to ferment. When deemed suffiently fermented, the chilli paste etc is washed off and they are ready to be eaten.

 

zhacai.thumb.jpg.7f6f6f540e935b9bd7743457ebcbf7c3.jpg

Washed zha cai


The fermented tubers can be chopped finely and used in several ways. In Sichuan, chopped zha cai is often added to congee for breakfast. Alternatively it can be sliced and added to stir-fries.

 

Zha cai from Fuling district (涪陵区 - fú líng qū) in Chongqing (formerly part of Sichuan), is said by many to be the best. It is also where the pickle is believed to have been invented. Wujiang (乌江 - wū jiāng) is the largest brand and is located in Fuling.

I'm told it is often sold canned in Chinese markets in the USA and Britain, unhelpfully labelled in English as 'Chinese preserved vegetable'. That could cover literally hudreds of things.

Here I can buy it by the bulb, as above, as well as cut into batons or finely chopped. It is also sold in jars or bags.

 

zhacai2.thumb.jpg.8c11f8c29e42b62f127164cd19d6e7d2.jpg

Edited by liuzhou (log)
  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I just did a quick check on Tabao, China's largest on-line shopping portal. I searched for "Chinese pickled vegetables". It returned 40,339 pages with 40 items per page = 1,613, 560 items! Of course, that doesn't mean that number of different items. But I think it does show that this topic could run forever! And that's just the vegetables.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

8. 大头菜 / 淡口采 - Salt Cured Turnip

 

Here's another Sichuan beauty for you. Sadly, you are unlikely to run into it outside China. It comes in China with various names. Fuchsia Dunlop calls it 大头菜 (dà tóu cài, literally 'big head vegetable') , a name I've seen elsewhere, whereas my local supplier calls it 淡口菜 (dàn kǒu cài, literally 'mild mouth vegetable). Whatever, it is a type of turnip Brassica juncia var. napitormis, native to China.

This is another salt-cured item and arrives shrink wrapped in a pair, curled into a ball.

dankoucai.thumb.jpg.35913ef6153a52fdcb86fb70bb13db5b.jpg

 

Teasing the ball apart reveals the two plants, looking like some monsters from the deep.

dankoucai2.thumb.jpg.bbadbb4a0dde1d670eaf48148611e7d5.jpg

 

It is, as the local name suggests, relatively mildly cured compared to the zha cai in the previous numbered post, but is used in the same ways.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

9. 白萝卜 (bái luó bo) -Preserved Daikon Radish

 

One of the  most popular vegetables to be preserved in China has to be what is known here as 白萝卜 (bái luó bo). This is what you may know as daikon or mooli. Daikon is the Japanese name (ダイコン) ; mooli is Hiindu ( - कम -mūlī). Whatever, it is Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus -  a type of giant radish.

 

483879701_daikon(Large).thumb.jpg.e200a35b6bf775436cf0cfbfb3952fcb.jpg

 

These are used fresh in many ways - often in soups or hotpots, but also in stir fried dishes. But they are also preserved by several methods.

Drying is a favourite. The vegetable is cut into thin strips and sun dried on any piece of available flat surface. I've seen it on remote railway station platforms, sports grounds and even car roofs.

879050503_DriedDaikonRadish.thumb.jpg.d5d443fbcfb9a4de0f93a185f7d92245.jpg

Home Dried Daikon Radish

 

1231651747_cabbagecar.thumb.jpg.a05bc8fba2b7122102154648cdafbb15.jpg

Mustard Drying on Car Roof

 

It is also dried more industrially to be sold in supermarkets, etc.

592818018__20210703124424.thumb.jpg.2c84677bad43557218f575c700d23ad5.jpg

Dried Daikon Radish from Supermarket

 

It is also pickled in vinegar. This one below uses red-skinned radishes which gives the colour.
 

441140959__20210703124621.jpg.e654736a405f21b28605dfa63f06e75f.jpg

 

What is less well known perhaps, is that the leaves of the plant are also edible (and delicious). These are also used fresh in stir fries, but often pickled, often industrially and sold as 萝卜头 (luó bo tóu, literally 'radish head').

 

854253893__20210703124542.thumb.jpg.78e9774fad6c992cd6a7bd9a23ace501.jpg
 

You can grow dakion radish leaves fairly easily. Here is my first effort, some years ago. My technique has somewhat improved since!

 

2014854667_daikonfeb13.thumb.jpg.4968d03245adda3cfb28d90e4b743699.jpg

 

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...