is a type of pickled
Pickling, also known as brining or corning is the process of preserving food by anaerobic fermentation in brine to produce lactic acid, or marinating and storing it in an acid solution, usually vinegar . The resulting food is called a pickle. This procedure gives the food a salty or sour taste...
Mustards are several plant species in the genera Brassica and Sinapis whose small mustard seeds are used as a spice and, by grinding and mixing them with water, vinegar or other liquids, are turned into the condiment known as mustard or prepared mustard...
stem originating from Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...
. Other transliteration
Transliteration is a subset of the science of hermeneutics. It is a form of translation, and is the practice of converting a text from one script into another...
s might include cha tsai
, tsa tsai
; or jar choy
, jar choi
, ja choi
, ja choy
, or cha tsoi
(from Cantonese). In English, it is commonly known as Sichuan vegetable
, Szechwan vegetable
, or Chinese pickled vegetable
(although all of these terms may also refer to any of a number of other Chinese pickles
Chinese pickles or Chinese preserved vegetables consists of various vegetables or fruits, which have been fermented by pickling with salt and brine or marinated in mixtures based on soy sauce or savory bean pastes...
), including the several other types in the Sichuan province itself.
The pickle is made from the knobby, fist-sized, swollen green stem of Brassica juncea
Brassica juncea, also known as mustard greens, Indian mustard, Chinese mustard, and leaf mustard, is a species of mustard plant. Subvarieties include southern giant curled mustard, which resembles a headless cabbage such as kale, but with a distinct horseradish-mustard flavor...
, subspecies tatsai
. The stem is first salted, pressed, and dried before being rubbed with hot red chili
Chili pepper is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The term in British English and in Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaysia and other Asian countries is just chilli without pepper.Chili peppers originated in the Americas...
paste and allowed to ferment
Fermentation in food processing typically is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation in simple terms is the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol...
in an earthenware
Earthenware is a common ceramic material, which is used extensively for pottery tableware and decorative objects.-Types of earthenware:Although body formulations vary between countries and even between individual makers, a generic composition is 25% ball clay, 28% kaolin, 32% quartz, and 15%...
jar. This preservation process is similar to that used to produce Korean kimchi
Kimchi , also spelled gimchi, kimchee, or kim chee, is a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with varied seasonings. There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made with a main vegetable ingredient such as napa cabbage, radish, green onions or cucumber. It is the most common...
The taste is a combination of spicy, sour, and salty, while the aroma is similar to sauerkraut
Sauerkraut , directly translated from German: "sour cabbage", is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. It has a long shelf-life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid...
with hot chili paste. Its unique texture—crunchy, yet tender—can only be vaguely compared to Western pickled cucumber
A pickled cucumber is a cucumber that has been pickled in a brine, vinegar, or other solution and left to ferment for a period of time, by either immersing the cucumbers in an acidic solution or through souring by lacto-fermentation.-Gherkin:A gherkin is not only...
s. Zha cai
is generally washed prior to use in order to remove the chili paste. Excess salt in the preserved vegetable is leached out by soaking in fresh water. Depending on the region and the brand, the flavor can be on the sweet, spicy, salty, or sour side.
Originating in Sichuan, zha cai
is used in many of the various cuisines of China - for example as an "authentic" component of Sichuan Dan dan noodles
Dandan noodles or Dan Dan Mian is a classic dish originating from Chinese Sichuan cuisine...
in soups made with ground pork and mifen
Rice noodles are noodles that are made from rice. Their principal ingredients are rice flour and water. However, sometimes other ingredients such as tapioca or corn starch are also added in order to improve the transparency or increase the gelatinous and chewy texture of the noodles.Rice noodles...
, or as a condiment for rice congee
Congee is a type of rice porridge popular in many Asian countries. It can be eaten alone or served with a side dish. Names for congee are as varied as the style of its preparation...
. It is generally sliced into thin strips and used in small amounts due to its extreme saltiness, although this saltiness can be tempered somewhat by soaking the strips in water prior to use.
A popular Chinese dish featuring zha cai
is "Noodles with Zha Cai
and Shredded Pork" (榨菜肉絲麵; zhà cài ròusī miàn
). Zha cai
is also an ingredient of ci fan tuan
Cí fàn tuán is a kind of food in Chinese cuisine, originating from Shanghai. It is made by tightly wrapping a piece of youtiao with glutinous rice. It is usually eaten as breakfast together with sweetened or savory soy milk in Eastern China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.In Hong Kong, it is usually known...
, a popular dish in Shanghai cuisine
Shanghai cuisine , also known as Hu cai is a popular style of Chinese cuisine. The city of Shanghai itself does not have a separate and unique cuisine of its own, but modifies those of the surrounding provinces, is Jiangsu and Zhejiang coastal provinces. What can be called Shanghai cuisine is...
In Japan, the pickle is common in Chinese restaurants (though it is usually less spicy, to suit Japanese tastes), and it is transliterated into Japanese as zāsai
(katakana: ザーサイ; kanji: 搾菜).
Like other vegetable stems in Chinese cuisines, particularly Celtuce
Celtuse , also called stem lettuce, celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, or Chinese lettuce, IPA , is a cultivar of lettuce grown primarily for its thick stem, used as a vegetable...
, Zha Cai can also be sliced and sautéed.