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Mystery ingredient in Szechuan long beans with minced pork?

c
Colonel78 Feb 21, 2009 03:35 PM

I love this dish and I am getting pretty good at making it at home. But there is one ingredient I can't identify. It is kind of crunchy, pale, with a darker rind, and is sliced up into matchstick sized pieces. It is a little fermented, maybe. Can anyone tell me what this vegetable (?) is, and where I can get it?
Thanks

  1. goodhealthgourmet Feb 21, 2009 04:27 PM

    could be preserved radish...what are the other ingredients you've identified so far?

    4 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
      Sam Fujisaka Feb 21, 2009 04:34 PM

      I thought bamboo shoots, but the "darker rind" eliminates that and, I think, preserved radish.

      1. re: Sam Fujisaka
        goodhealthgourmet Feb 21, 2009 04:39 PM

        i consider radish skin to be somewhat dark, don't you?

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
          Sam Fujisaka Feb 21, 2009 05:23 PM

          I was thinking of daikon. You're probaly right, however. I have no idea.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
            c
            Colonel78 Feb 21, 2009 05:29 PM

            Thanks, preserved radish makes sense. I have never had it on its own or seen it in a shop, but I just googled it and it seems right. It seems to go by the name chai por and come in bags.
            Not all restaurants put it in the dish, but it is my favourite part. The other ingredients that I use are pretty simple - beans fried in a little oil until they start to brown and blister and a sauce made of soy sauce, scallions or shallots, chili oil, sesame oil and vinegar. I had it first at minimarket, now I try it from 'real' chinese places too.

      2. y
        youdonut Feb 21, 2009 05:29 PM

        its probably char choy a Szechuan Preserved Vegetable

        7 Replies
        1. re: youdonut
          aser Feb 21, 2009 06:22 PM

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zha_cai

          it's definitely this.

          Sun's Kitchen at pac mall serves a good zha cai and shredded pork noodle.

          1. re: aser
            paulj Feb 21, 2009 07:13 PM

            In the past I've bought it canned. It keeps well in the fridge, so don't be afraid to buy some even if you only need a small amount in a recipe. Taste to judge how hot and salty it is.

            1. re: aser
              scoopG Feb 22, 2009 07:26 AM

              Preserved mustard green. Wikipedia there calls is Zha Cai but Fuchsia Dunlop in "The Land of Plenty" says it is 榨菜 or ya cai.

              1. re: scoopG
                h
                HLing Feb 22, 2009 07:57 AM

                It is probably Ya Cai 宜宾碎米芽菜,一 (but scoopG, your Chinese character still said Zha Cai). The one brand I've been able to get starting only a few years ago is this:

                http://www.yododo.com/group/t/0114A75...

                I first come across this in Flushing, Queens, from a place that doesn't exist any more: This woman made the most incredible steamed buns using meat and this Ya Cai. It's a Szechuan steam bun totally different in taste from the now common veggie and pork bun fillings.

                宜宾碎米芽菜 :Yi bin crushed rice Ya Cai. The Szechuanese like to use toasted ground rice in many things like coating pork belly slices with it and then steaming it tender. Look for this in Asian stores. It's has a different smokiness from the usual Zha Cai.

                1. re: HLing
                  scoopG Feb 22, 2009 11:41 AM

                  Thanks - I copied and pasted it wrong! I am a bit confused about any difference between the two, 芽菜 ya cai and 榨菜 zha cai and if there is a difference. Perhaps ya cai is preserved mustard green and zha cai is preserved mustard green packing some heat?

                  1. re: scoopG
                    h
                    HLing Feb 22, 2009 04:49 PM

                    Re-reading the OP's post it's probably 榨菜 Zha Cai, the one that's made from the Kohlrabi- like bulb of a type of mustard green. Zha Cai is much more accessible in the US and is known by most people for longer time. So even if a dish in Sichuan gets made with the Ya Cai, people in the US would probably substitute Zha Cai for it anyway.

                    Ya Cai 芽菜 on the other hand, is made from stems of this plant:
                    http://www.spuweb.cn/content/view/126...

                    Yi Bin is the name of a city in Sichuan. I made a wrong assumption in my earlier post about the Sui Mi, (crushed rice) in that though They tend to use crushed rice a lot in their recipes, in this case (Yi Bin Sui MI Ya Cai) it's referring to the chopped-up, crushed rice-size version as opposed to the whole strips.

                    If i recall correctly, the dan dan noodles at the St.Mark location had specks of the Ya Cai 芽菜on it, which is different from the pickles used for the Zha Cai 榨菜pork noodle soup.

                    If you've had Mrs. Tan's 谭 (of the no longer Mai Xiang Tan麦香谭) special Ya cai steamed buns (芽菜肉包)you'll know the difference right away. Her food was way better than the Spicy and Tasty restaurant's version! But I digress.

                    1. re: HLing
                      i
                      IPcook Feb 24, 2009 01:44 PM

                      you can find suimi yacai at the Hong Kong supermarket in east brunswick New jersey-product is made by sichuan yibin

          2. d
            dmd_kc Feb 21, 2009 07:13 PM

            It's Szechuan pickled vegetable, which you can get jarred in any Asian market. The commercial ones are made from a green that I've never been able to find in the U.S. (my market produce woman told me she can't get them, but I'm not 100% sure we got around the language barrier). There are recipes online to make it from turnips, carrots and cabbage. I've tried that, and it's good -- but it's not terribly much like the bottled variety.

            3 Replies
            1. re: dmd_kc
              jen kalb Feb 21, 2009 07:31 PM

              chinese groceries sell this in small plastic packs as well as in cans - look in the sidewalk bins - its really cheap and tastes great.

              1. re: dmd_kc
                trentyzan Feb 22, 2009 01:35 PM

                It's made from a mustard root related to kohlrabi, if you want to make your own.

                1. re: trentyzan
                  d
                  dmd_kc Feb 22, 2009 07:57 PM

                  And I think I'm going to try it with kohlrabi greens. Thanks!

              2. ipsedixit Feb 21, 2009 10:39 PM

                Dried scallops.

                1. sweetpotato Jul 19, 2010 07:29 AM

                  Is there any chance you will share your recipe with us, Colonel ?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sweetpotato
                    scoopG Jul 19, 2010 07:39 AM

                    The Colonel has not weighed in on CH in about nine months. Here's a recipe for you ex Fuchsia Dunlop:

                    http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-me...

                    1. re: scoopG
                      sweetpotato Jul 19, 2010 08:48 AM

                      Thank you so much !!

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