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

jecho Aug 8, 2009 11:47 AM

The Chowhound Team split this tangent from the Los Angeles board. If you'd like to find Chinese beef rolls in the greater L.A. area, please go here:

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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.

  1. MikeLee Aug 16, 2009 11:07 AM

    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
      Mr Taster Aug 19, 2009 10:27 AM

      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
        ipsedixit Aug 19, 2009 11:50 AM

        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
          taiwanesesmalleats Aug 19, 2009 11:59 AM

          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
            bulavinaka Aug 19, 2009 01:02 PM

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

            1. re: bulavinaka
              ipsedixit Aug 19, 2009 02:33 PM

              Also good on congee.

              I could go on and on and on ...

              1. re: ipsedixit
                Mr Taster Aug 19, 2009 02:52 PM

                Please do...

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster
                  ipsedixit Aug 19, 2009 03:06 PM

                  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
                    Mr Taster Aug 19, 2009 03:23 PM

                    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
                      J.L. Aug 19, 2009 05:29 PM

                      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.
                        Burger Boy Aug 19, 2009 07:59 PM

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

                        1. re: Burger Boy
                          J.L. Aug 20, 2009 02:54 AM

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

                          1. re: J.L.
                            Burger Boy Aug 20, 2009 07:19 AM

                            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
                              ipsedixit Aug 20, 2009 09:29 AM

                              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
                                J.L. Aug 20, 2009 11:05 AM

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

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  Burger Boy Aug 20, 2009 11:13 AM

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

                                  1. re: Burger Boy
                                    ipsedixit Aug 20, 2009 11:15 AM

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

                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                      Burger Boy Aug 20, 2009 12:14 PM

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

                                      1. re: Burger Boy
                                        ipsedixit Aug 20, 2009 02:19 PM

                                        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
                                          Burger Boy Aug 20, 2009 02:46 PM

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

                                          1. re: Burger Boy
                                            ipsedixit Aug 20, 2009 03:15 PM

                                            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
                                              J.L. Aug 20, 2009 05:28 PM

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

                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                Mr Taster Aug 21, 2009 10:17 AM

                                                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
                                                  ipsedixit Aug 21, 2009 10:33 AM

                                                  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
                                                    Mr Taster Aug 21, 2009 11:07 AM

                                                    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
                                                      Stellar D Aug 22, 2009 06:17 PM

                                                      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
                                              SeaCook Aug 28, 2009 02:14 PM

                                              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
                                                ipsedixit Aug 28, 2009 02:23 PM

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

              2. J.L. Aug 22, 2009 07:09 PM

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

                1. m
                  maxcatsilver Oct 23, 2010 01:27 PM

                  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.

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