Friday, 19 March 2010
榨菜 Zha Chai is my favourite store cupboard Chinese pickled vegetable. This is available in most Chinese grocery store, some in plastic packaging and some in tin/can in large chunks or ready shredded. Personally I prefer the chunky type in a tin/can.
This pickled vegetable is made with a root vegetable similar to kohlrabi but knobbly. Above is a picture borrowed from the web. This is how they look like before pickled with salt and chilli powder to look like this below.
Zha Chai is salty, spicy and crunchy. I normally use this is to stir fry/steam with pork/chicken or spare ribs. Occasionally I like to use this salted spicy vegetable to boil soup with pork ribs, potato, tomato, celery and onion, a very tasty soup.
Another favourite of mine is this noodle soup, 榨菜肉絲麵 (zha chai rou si mien), a very satisfying big bowl to slurp loudly in private.
The recipe is easy and very quick to make using store cupboard ingredients, few everyday fresh and flavouring ingredients.
榨菜肉絲麵 (zha chai rou si mien)
Ingedients: pork, zha chai (Sichuan preserved vegetable), noodles (dried or fresh, wheat or rice), broth or stock (use frozen homemade or stock bullion), garlic, ginger, spring onion (scallion), light soy, dark soy, sesame oil, pinch of ground pepper, cornflour (corn starch), pinch of sugar and some cooking wine.
Take a piece of pork like pork chop, fillet or loin, cut into very fine strips. Mix pork with some light soy, pinch of ground pepper, dash of sesame oil and some cornflour. Leave to marinate for about 15 minutes.
Take about 3/4 - equal weight of zha chai or Sichuan preserved vegetables. If using ready shredded then use as it. If using chunks, rinse off chilli powder and cut into same size as pork. This pickled vegetable is salty, best give it a rinse after cutting to remove some of the salt. Squeeze dry.
Chop some garlic. Shred or chop some ginger. Also get ready some garnish like chopped spring onion (scallion) and chilli.
Have enough stock or broth (chicken, pork or vegetable). Heat and lightly seasoned. Keep this hot ready for later.
Heat some oil, add garlic and stir then add pork and stir fry till meat is brown. Add ginger and a splash of cooking wine. Add zha chai, stir for couple of minutes till heat through. Add a few drops of dark soy for colour and a little sugar to taste.
Get some noodles, cooked as per instructions. My favourite noodles for this dish is dried Shanghai style wheat noodles like this below. This has a very smooth texture great for noodle soup.
To assemble the noodle soup, put some cooked noodles in a soup bowl, pile on some of the stir fried pork with zha chai, sprinkle with the garnish and pour on the hot broth. Enjoy.
This post is kindly supported by Chinese Food.