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Help me understand what I ate from Mulan!

Science Chick Jul 20, 2012 07:11 AM

Picked up some take out from the Waltham Mulan last night. First time there, and decided to try the Watercress with "Taiwan Sauce". Very interesting dish...had tiny little fish (?small dried anchovies?). But the thing that baffled me were these small, pea-sized morsels with a very hard pit in the center! They were tan colored and had a sweet/salty vibe going. Does anyone know what these were? They were yummy, but I almost broke a tooth biting down on a mouthful of the dish, not knowing what they were and that they had this diamond-strength pit in the center!

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  1. Science Chick RE: Science Chick Jul 20, 2012 01:04 PM

    So far disappointed that no one can help me with this one....someone must know this!??

    8 Replies
    1. re: Science Chick
      deglazer RE: Science Chick Jul 20, 2012 03:04 PM

      Could they have been soy beans? I haven't had that dish nor even been to that location, so I'm just tossing out an idea. I've purchased and used many jarred fermented chili bean sauces/pastes over the years. I'm somewhat random with my purchases. Sometimes they contain whole fermented soybeans that can be a little al dente. Fits your visual clues, but I wouldn't describe it as having a "pit", so maybe not.

      1. re: deglazer
        Science Chick RE: deglazer Jul 21, 2012 07:19 AM

        Thanks, deglazer, for the attempt. Nope, definitely not soybeans. This was a real, stone pit!

        1. re: Science Chick
          FoodDabbler RE: Science Chick Jul 21, 2012 07:25 AM

          Can you describe the texture of the flesh around the pit? Was there a skin (which might suggest some sort of fruit)? How big was the pit (if the entire thing was pea-sized)? And, what was the color of the pit?

          1. re: FoodDabbler
            Science Chick RE: FoodDabbler Jul 21, 2012 08:13 AM

            Ok.....here is a picture of the fleshy item in question, along with its pit. Pardon my greasy hands, I had to dig around in the leftovers......

            1. re: Science Chick
              hargau RE: Science Chick Jul 21, 2012 08:19 AM

              small leeche fruit??

              Or a Longan which is even smaller

              1. re: hargau
                Science Chick RE: hargau Jul 21, 2012 08:43 AM

                hargau, you sent me on the correct path.....I think I found it. Longan fruit! Here is an image I found that is identical to the thing in my dish:

                1. re: Science Chick
                  opinionatedchef RE: Science Chick Jul 22, 2012 09:53 AM

                  well this certainly is interesting. I want to get that watercress dish next time i go for their smoked duck! But boy, i must be losing it; i thought longan, rambutan and lychee were all roughly the same size (I eat them from cans, chilled, and love them all, w/ rambutan my preferred)which i would describe as much larger than a pea, more like 1/3- 1/2 of a golfball. but the one is your hand looks like pea sized... baby longan?


                  1. re: opinionatedchef
                    kobuta RE: opinionatedchef Jul 22, 2012 03:54 PM

                    Definitely not longan. Longan's have a translucent like flesh, and definitely much bigger than pea sized as you noted.. I think the responset below is correct.

                    But rambutan, lychee and longan are not the same size. Rambutan > lychee > longan (generally speaking). Typical rambutan I've had is about 50% bigger than a lychee (and sometimes 2x the size). I would say the same about a lychee vs longan...about a third to half bigger than a longan. I've only had them fresh though, so maybe when they're canned it's harder to tell once the pits are removed.

    2. c
      coffee_monkey RE: Science Chick Jul 21, 2012 08:57 AM

      This is " 破朴子", which is a tree fruit pickled in soy sauce. It is often used with steam fish/fish dishes as flavor enhancer, but can be eaten straight (don't eat the pit!) with congee. It has medical effect of digestion aid and helping one to "cool down" during hot summers. A traditional Taiwanese thing.

      2 Replies
      1. re: coffee_monkey
        coffee_monkey RE: coffee_monkey Jul 21, 2012 09:04 AM

        Some photos

        1. re: coffee_monkey
          coffee_monkey RE: coffee_monkey Jul 21, 2012 09:07 AM


        2. f
          FoodDabbler RE: Science Chick Jul 22, 2012 07:46 PM

          I think coffee_monkey is on the mark. I got the dish myself today (it was excellent) and deconstructed it: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8005/76... . They do appear to be "tree seeds" (Cordia dichotoma).

          Science Chick's pic seems to be from http://en.petitchef.com/recipes/lotus... and none of the ingredients are the right ones, I think, although the lotus seeds look similar.

          4 Replies
          1. re: FoodDabbler
            opinionatedchef RE: FoodDabbler Jul 22, 2012 10:19 PM

            This is so neat to learn about. Are they mealy like ginkgo nuts, and is their flavor describable or more that of the soy sauce? I know the dish is called 'watercress' but is that what it is?cuz the green stuff doesn't look like watercress to me (watercress has small rounded leaves.)
            Is it water spinach maybe?(we saw some at the Union Sq farmer's market sunday)

            One of the more unusual vegetables I've had at a Boston chinese restnt was fern tips ('Mountain vegetable' on the menu) at that Szechuan place in Medford Sq.years ago.The Japanese call it zenmai and you can find it in sealed pouches and prepared salads at some Korean and other Asian markets.Lightly pickled, crunchy/chewy and neat woodsy flavor.

            1. re: opinionatedchef
              KWagle RE: opinionatedchef Jul 22, 2012 10:52 PM

              This is awesome, CH wins again!

              I'm pretty sure the "mountain vegetable" you had at Chilli Garden in Medford is also on the menu at MuLan.

              Chilli Garden makes some pretty awesome food and seems to me to have the most subtle/complex favor mixes of any of the local Sichuan places. I recommend pretty much everything on their Chinese menu, though the rabbit in spicy sauce was the standout IMO.

              1. re: KWagle
                FoodDabbler RE: KWagle Jul 24, 2012 04:33 PM

                Thanks for the Chilli Garden rabbit tip. It's not on my way to anything, but spicy rabbit can be its own destination.

                And, yes, "Chinese watercress" is, I believe, indeed water spinach. Makes this dish an aquatic harmony.

                Science Chick: Glad I could be of assistance. I live to serve.

            2. re: FoodDabbler
              Science Chick RE: FoodDabbler Jul 23, 2012 02:31 PM

              Dabbler, you rock! I love your photo, and I bet you've solved our mystery. Thanks!

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