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Feb 28, 2008 11:31 PM

[MSP] Tianjin preserved vegetable--where to buy in Twin Cities?

I've decided to re-create one of my favorite dishes (the green beans, doncha know) from Little Szechuan in St. Paul from a similar sounding looking recipe in Fuchsia Dunlop's "Land of Plenty" and I need "Tianjin" or Zha cai in order to do so. I've already hit up United Noodle (in Midtown Global Market) with no success (although they had everything I needed to prepare the ma po tofu and beef with cumin dishes from Dunlop's "Land of Plenty"). My next stop, unless someone has actually seen this unicorn someone and can direct me specifically, will be Dragon Star Foods. Before I go running around town, does anyone know where in the Twin Cities to get it? I imagine I can get it online, but, you know me, I'm anxious to get going now.

It apparently looks like this (in Fuchsia Dunlop's "Revolutionary Chinese" she says it comes in a little earthenware pot):

When I asked about it at Little Szechuan months ago, they told me the dish contained "ya choy", so, I would settle for that, too. :) Zha cai ( "pressed vegetable") a type of Sichuan pickled mustard stem Other transliterations: cha tsai, tsa tsai (Mandarin Chinese); or jar choy, jar choi, ja choi, ja choy, or cha tsoi (Cantonese Chinese).

Thank you!


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  1. Have you tried Shang Hur on Nicollet? The pots of preserved vegetables are sort of squat and brown, usually with a paper lid, covered in plastic. It is usually very inexpensive and lasts forever. I'm sure my daughter got tianjin at Shang Hur, but it was 2 years ago. She bought it to make the green beans from Land of Plenty!

    7 Replies
    1. re: zataar

      No, I haven't tried there yet, but it sounds very promising! Thank you, too, for the visual description. Now I can spend less time wandering the aisles wondering what I'm looking for.

      Funny that your daughter was making the green beans, too!


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        TDQ, Shuang Hur also has a store at Dale and University in St. Paul. You may already know that. But if you go to the Nicollet location, you'll be at the south end of Eat Street right near some board favorites.

        1. re: bob s

          yes if you go to the nicollet shuang hur you'll be across the street from quang & a block from jasmine deli! the university store might be a touch bigger but i like going (back) to the nicollet store

        2. re: The Dairy Queen

          My daughter and I both love Land of Plenty. Love Shuang Hur and United Noodle, too! She moved to Seattle, so we haven't been to the TC for almost 2 years. We miss it :-(

          1. re: zataar

            Thank you, Bob. Actually, I found the St. Paul Shuang Hur before I found the Minneapolis one. Can't hurt to be near Eat Street.

            zataar, I don't know if you follow the Home Cooking branch and the "Cookbook of the Month" at all, but we're having a run-off vote between Batali and Dunlop (Land of Plenty/Sichuan+Revolutionary Chinese/Hunan) to be the March COTM. oakjoan, the organizer, hasn't officially declared a winner, but it seems to me that Dunlop is beating Batali. The more the merrier of course, so please join us if you're so inclined. (This, actually, will be my first month participating in COTM--I'm more of an eater than a cook as my waistline demonstrates lately). Actually, my plan is to mimic all of my Little Szechuan favorites using Land of Plenty, but adapting the recipes to be "core since L.S. uses way too much oil to fit into the Weight Watchers core plan diet I'm currently on...which means, I'm feeling quite deprived. I would love it if Twin Cities hounds joined in the cooking so they can help me get as close as possible to L.S. dishes!

            Thanks again!


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              As you know, there's a Shuang Hur on University in St. Paul. There's also the new Asian grocer behind Dragon Star. The "new Hmong Market" has finally opened some of the booths, and most of the food court. (The rumors of the demise of the old one are untrue. I was there a few weeks ago, and recently heard they're looking to expand: )

              1. re: Danny

                That's fantastic Danny about the "old" Hmong market! It would be wonderful if they could expand, although, I don't think they need a KFC and a Subway to attract the Capitol crowd, just better signage and access...

                And I keep wanting to call the new one on Piece Butler the Golden Globe. I've been reading too much about Diablo Cody and the Coen's, I guess--what's it called again?

                EDIT: I just checked an old post of mine about this with the link to the article from the PiPress and it IS called the Golden Globe, well, Golden Globe International. No wonder I'm so confused.


      2. This sounds like something you might be able to find at the main United Noodles store, which has a far more extensive selection than the Midtown satellite.

        1. Dragon Star has it. Or at least they did six months ago, when we last purchased some.

          1. Thank you, everyone. I found it at Shuang Hur on Nicollet in MPLS. Good to know, diesel, that Dragon Star has it and, probably, Shuang Hur on University, too.


            1. Ahh one of my absolute favorite foods of all time. Also check out Shanghai Market on Como, near Snelling. They carry a couple different brands. The one I like is in a silver pouch, already shredded.

              My favorite breakfast growing up was plain congee eaten with little dishes of savories including shredded zha cai, thousand year old egg drizzled with toasted sesame oil, you tiao (fried dough). I still request it every time!


              1 Reply
              1. re: halomie

                I've always wondered about Shanghai Market--thanks for the tip!