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Aug 8, 2009 11:47 AM

"Suan Tsai"or "Tzai Tsai" Chinese pickled condiment

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I love the beef roll at 101 Noodle express but I love the condiment green cilantro and pepper mix equally. Does anyone know how to make that? It seems to be the stems of the cilantro with some of the leaves and diced green onion and green peppers in an oil base. I don't remember tasting salt with it but I do remember that the condiment had a wonderful savoriness to it. Would appreciate any suggestions.

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  1. I'd just experiment with a few batches. It's not like cilantro, fresh peppers and scallions are expensive.

    Funny thing, I got Beyond the Great Wall and there's a recipe for Tribal Herb Salsa and I thought of that when I first saw it at 101. But that recipe is different, it has rice vinegar, no oil and no pepper.

    27 Replies
    1. re: MikeLee

      That pickle-y stuff is a standard condiment for Chinese beef noodle soup (I believe it's called "suan tsai" or something like that-- pickled greens, although maybe someone more knowledgable can verify this). It's meant to be mixed into the beef noodle soup, not the beef roll (but to each his own!)

      Mr Taster

      1. re: Mr Taster

        Whether you call it "suan tsai"or "tzai tsai" ... I eat it straight out of the jar and have been known to poach the jars from adjacent tables ...

        1. re: Mr Taster

          I tend to like it on anything meaty or greasy. Helps cut the heaviness of the dish such as the beef rolls and beef noodle soup. It's also great in shao bing with braised beef.

          1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

            Second that on using suan tsai/tzai tsai as well as eating it straight. Also a light sprinkle on dumplings...

            1. re: bulavinaka

              Also good on congee.

              I could go on and on and on ...

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  Well, let's see, aside from the aforementioned ...

                  -fried rice
                  -steamed rice
                  -dan dan mien
                  -cold sesame noodles
                  -steamed buns ("man-tou")
                  -mixed with Taiwanese fried pork floss ("rou-tsong") as a sandwich filling
                  -mixed with soy sauce, sesame oil, etc. as a dressing for tofu
                  -as a "salsa" for tortilla chips
                  -mixed into Taiwanese fatty meatloaf
                  -topped on scrambled eggs
                  -as a filling for Beijing style crepes
                  -mixed into egg salad and potato salad
                  -mixed into deviled eggs

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    To each his own, indeed! :)

                    I'll be very curious to see what my (Taiwanese) wife thinks of tzai tsai and tortilla chips...

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Thank goodness I have Grandma's recipes for this stuff. Yeah, it's pretty much a fifth food group in Taiwan.

                      1. re: J.L.

                        Can you post the recipe somewhere? Would love to cover my body in the stuff!

                        1. re: Burger Boy

                          Yikes... That's bit "too" Houndish?!

                          1. re: J.L.

                            Seriously, any chance you would share your grandmother's recipe with us? I am sure grandma would want everyone to enjoy her recipes of love!

                            1. re: Burger Boy

                              It's actually pretty simple to make.

                              Get yourself a bunch of Chinese mustard greens

                              Then assemble the following for the pickling liquid:
                              -Chinese rock sugar
                              -ginger root
                              -rice wine vinegar

                              Combine the above ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool. Then discard the ginger root.

                              Place the mustard greens (whole in bunches) in a canning jar, then fill with the pickling liquid, seal and turn and flip the jar so that the liquid is properly distributed.

                              Leave it out in room temperature for 7-10 days. The greens should turn color from a light bright green to a dark yellow-ish brown.

                              Remove and store in the fridge in a tupperware container. Each time you want some, take out a bunch and dice and chop up the stalks and leaves to a size and shape of your liking.

                              (Note: You can reuse the pickling liqud by just adding fresh mustard greens)

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Aha! So you're the thief who broke into Grandma's house years ago! The jig is up, ipse!

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  This one at 101 has jalapenos or seranos and cilantro, no?

                                  1. re: Burger Boy

                                    The serano chilis and cilantro are garnishes that you add afterwards. Don't pickle those.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Oh, OK,thanks, I guess i need to get some greens and stuff. Yeah!

                                      1. re: Burger Boy

                                        The beauty of pickled mustard greens is that it is absolutely delicious on its own, but also great when mixed in with other accoutrements.

                                        Lots of joints in SGV will have jars of mustard greens mixed with black bean chili sauce, sesame oil, green chilis, etc.

                                        But man, give me a good plate of pork chop rice and some pickled mustard greens to mix in, and a good tea egg on the side and I could die a happy 'hound ...

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Where do you go for pork chop rice? Do they have the greens there also?

                                          1. re: Burger Boy

                                            Old Country Cafe ... then finish off your meal with a nice big bowl of shaved ice. Game over.

                                            Old Country Cafe
                                            2 East Valley Blvd
                                            Alhambra, CA 91801
                                            (626) 284-4610

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Ooh I haven't had that in over 6 months - THX for the reminder!

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                Hey ipse, thanks for the OCC recommendation! We had the pork chop last night (as did virtually everyone else in the joint) and it was fantastic... about $4.50. But why didn't it come with rice? No matter. Loved the suan tsai and cabbage served under the pork chop. Also got a spinach and ground meat app for $2.25 which also was quite good. The ice was fine, though it's not longer $2 but $3 (and we opted for the mango ice with mochi and condensed milk, for a total of $4.75. Lastly, we ordered the squid noodles but it paled in comparison to the version at won won kitchen.

                                                Thanks for the tip!
                                                Mr Taster

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  Wait a minute. It came with NO rice?? How can that be?

                                                  If I recall correctly (it's been a while since I've actually used a menu to order at the place), the pork chop comes with your choice of either rice, noodles, or "rice noodles". Maybe there was a mixup somewhere?? Could they have run out of rice?? Egad.

                                                  I always indulge in a side order of pig's blood. :-)

                                                  Glad you enjoyed your visit, even w/o the rice ...

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    We were thinking of asking about it, but we weren't hungry enough to worry too much about, so we let it go. All the pork chop plates at other tables were served as ours were (pork chop on flat plate over suan tsai and cabbage with 1/2 tea egg, no rice) though we noticed some people had extra side bowls of cabbage and rice.

                                                    Mr Taster

                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                      As kids, my mother would slice pickled mustard super thin, as thin as you can get them. Then stir fry with with oil and garlic, then add egg and scramble everything together. Then we would eat it over rice with home made hot sauce.... I still get cravings from time to time.

                                            2. re: ipsedixit

                                              I was particularly fond of the version that was at Lucky Dragon. I became so bummed when I heard it closed. :-( I could munch on that stuff watchng TV. Certainly healtier than potato chips!

                                              1. re: SeaCook

                                                And they had one of the best, homiest tomato beef rice around ...

              1. I believe suan tsai = 酸菜, in Chinese, for ease of searching other sites...

                1. After having lunch at 101 Noodle Express yesterday and being told that their cilantro-based relish is not for sale, my Wife and I took a stab at recreating the condiment at home today, and we were quite pleased with the results for our leftover beef roll(s). This is what we did:

                  Finely chopped about 1 cup of cilantro (stems included), and two jalapeno peppers (seeds included, we like it spicy), added about 1 tbsp of sliced packaged Chinese pickled mustard tuber, about 2 tbsp of sesame oil, a dash of salt and about 1 tsp of white vinegar. It wasn't exactly like 101's, but we had no problems scarfing this all down with our leftovers. Hopefully this provides anyone who's interested with enough info to experiment with their own version.