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Jun 13, 2009 04:36 PM

Shepherd's Purse Dumplings?

Was at a Shanghai style restaurant in San Jose where I noticed a number of pork Shepherd's Purse items on the menu. (At the time I had no idea that Shepherd's Purse was some kind of plant.) There were pork Shepherd's purse dumplings, wonton and pancakes. I had the pancake, which turned out to be a pocket shaped exactly like a letter sized envelope, complete with backside envelope folds, deep fried until crispy. I had never seen any items like this before, but was wondering whether they're available in the Los Angeles area, but perhaps under a different name.

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  1. The plant itself is called 荠菜 (ji4 cai4)... so perhaps that can help you?

    1 Reply
    1. Those dishes sound yummy! Did you post about the place on the SF board? I've seen Shepherd's purse dishes at other Bay Area Shanghainese restaurants, but never the pancake you describe. I assume shepherd's purse is a typical Shanghai ingredient, so presumably Shanghai-style restaurants would be the place to start in LA.

      Although here's a report of shepherd's purse dumplings in a post you actually responded to:

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Thanks for the reference. The thing about 101 Noodle Express is that the beef rolls are so good that I never get past them. The pancakes were at Oriental Cuisine on DeAnza, same shopping center as the food court.

        1. re: Chandavkl

          Thanks! I did a couple of searches and I think the name is actually "Oriental Gourmet Chinese Restaurant" -- slightly more prepossessing than "Oriental Cuisine"! There don't seem to be any references to it on the SF board. Would you mind making a brief post about what you had there?

        1. re: Chandavkl

          Is that just a variation of "jiu-tsai hu-tze"?

        2. Most Shanghai style places in the SGV have jicai dumplings / baozi, and also make fried nian gao with jicai. I'm not sure if any places have pork / jicai dumplings, but the nian gao dish usually has pork in it. I haven't heard of it in pancakes... was it mixed into the pancake, like the scallion pancakes (cong you bing)?

          Mei Long Zhen is one place to look. The vegetarian dumplings have jicai, mushroom, baked / pressed tofu, and I think there is some xue cai mixed in too. A few other suggestions w/ reviews / pictures on my gf's site:

          I have seen the pockets you're talking about, but usually with at northern places w/ jiu cai (Chinese leek) and egg rather than ji cai (shepherd's purse). Was the flavor mild or pungent? It's possible that there was a translation error.

          On a related note, afaik, ji cai grows as a weed here, but it never seems to be available fresh, even from asian farmers at the farmers market... does anyone know a source for fresh ji cai in the LA area? Would it be too invasive to grow it yourself at home? Do any restaurants use it fresh? As best as I've been able to tell, it's always frozen.

          6 Replies
          1. re: will47

            My family grows it in the yard. It's very easy to grow.

            And frozen? I've never ever seen frozen jiu tsai at markets. I've always been able to find fresh jiu tsai at places like Ranch 99 or Hawai'i Market.

            As far as fresh sources straight from the soil, try Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights. They have a whole lot in their back garden dedicated to jiu tsai, and use it in their dishes during their lunch buffets. Maybe you could ask them for a fresh bunch. Buddhist monks are never known to be hoarders ... right?

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Are we talking about the same plant? Ubergeek wrote that the plant is called ji cai (荠菜), not jiu cai (韭 菜).

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Are we talking about 薺菜, 芥菜, or 韭菜 (well obviously the monks aren't growing 韭菜)?

                You can get frozen jicai at all those places... I have never seen it fresh, but maybe I haven't been looking in the right places... what is it usually labeled as?

                I know it's easy to grow, but is it *invasive*? I know it's considered a weed in a lot of places, so I'd just worry about it spreading too far.

                1. re: will47

                  芥菜 (jiè cài) are mustard greens and are available in any Asian market and most farmers' markets. 韭菜 (jiǔ​ cài) are Chinese chives (or sometimes garlic chives) and are also widely available. 薺菜 (jì cài) is shepherd's purse and I've never seen it for sale in an Asian market or farmers' market but I also haven't really looked for it.

                  (I'm using standard Pinyin here because the sounds are quite similar.)

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Yeah - I know the difference between the three. I just wasn't sure which ones ipsedixit was referring to as 'jiu tsai'[cai]. I have seen fresh 芥菜 and 韭菜, but not fresh 薺菜. Frozen 薺菜 is easy to find.

                    1. re: will47

                      Ok, my bad. I was referring to the first two and the third -- 薺菜

            2. I've seen pork with shepards purse ravioli on the menu at The Noodle House in Rowland Heights but when I try to order it was unavaialbe.

              Noodle House
              18219 Gale Ave, City of Industry, CA 91748