We were having lunch at a hawker centre and my wife ordered this dish, the stewed sour vegetable.
She told me she has not eaten this vegetable for years and I have also forgotten about this vegetable.. She said her mother used to stir fry this with minced meat just like what my late mum did. After lunch, I walked across to the wet market and bought this sour vegetable and prepared our childhood dish for dinner to go with porridge.
This is not salted vegetable but sour vegetable though it looked almost the same. Usually, they are more sour than salty and have big mustard leaves. You can get these in the wet market at the same store that sell the salted vegetables or at the supermarket dry goods section.
There are two types of sour vegetable. Northern China used napa cabbage for the preparation whereas southern China mostly uses mustard. Over in Singapore and Malaysia, the sour vegetable basically refer to the mustard version and I have a chance of to eat the sour napa cabbage in Changchun, China. It was stewed with pork belly and I really loved the dish and I am still thinking of the dish 酸菜白肉. Too bad, I do not think Singapore sell this version of sour vegetable.
As per Wikipedia:
“Suan cai (also called suan tsai and Chinese sauerkraut; literally “sour vegetable”) is a traditional Chinese pickledChinese cabbage, used for a variety of purposes. Suan cai is a unique form of pao cai, due to the ingredients used and the method of production. Production of suan cai differs from other pao cai in that the vegetable is compressed. This is accomplished by placing a heavy weight such as a large rock on top of the cover of the container so that the Chinese cabbage inside the container is slowly pressed and fermented. The processing of the vegetable helps to create a distinct flavor. Suan cai is often used in cooking with meat, especially pork. It is said to neutralize the grease of meat.
Two distinct types of suan cai are found in China:
- Northern China has used Napa cabbage(Chinese: 大白菜; pinyin: dà bái cài) as the traditional vegetable of choice.
- Southern China uses the thick stalk varieties of Chinese mustard (Chinese: 芥菜; pinyin: jìe cai; Jyutping: suen choy) variety to make suan cai. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suan_cai)’’”
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 3-4 adult servings
- 300 grams of sour vegetable
- 300 grams of minced pork
- 5 cm long of ginger, shredded
- 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon of caramelized dark soya sauce (optional)
- 1 –2 tablespoons of white sugar
- Dashes of white pepper
- Some chilli padi (optional)
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Cut the sour vegetable into small chunks and soak in the water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a wok, put 2 tablespoons of oil, sauté the shredded ginger and chopped garlic until fragrant. Add the minced meat and stir fry for one minute. Add the sour vegetable, sugar and caramelized dark soya sauce. Stir fry until well mixed. Add 1/4 cup of water, continue to stir fry until the water dries up. Dust with red cut chilli and white pepper before serving with white rice or porridge. The frying shall be done using high heat throughout the process.
This is a very simple household recipe that does not require much cooking skills. Since meat and vegetable are easily get cooked, the whole process only requires one step and is a very fast dish. Whether or not it is nice will very much depend on the heat and throughout the stir frying, high heat shall be used and if possible, use lard instead of cooking oil.
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