Suancai, an uncommon ingredient but easy versatile yummy food!
Suancai, known as the Chinese Sauerkraut, is traditional Chinese pickled mustard green used in a variety of dishes all over China. It's similar to Sauerkraut but with a more balanced taste.
The production of Suancai differs from other fermented vegetables for its compression process. This is accomplished by placing a heavy weight on top so that the Suancai mustard in the jar is slowly pressed modifying also its texture.
In Hunan and Sichuan regions, you can find the famous Suancai hot pot, using lots of slices of mustard, chilli oil and spices as the spicy and sour soup base. For example this Suancai Fish Hot Pot:
In the Northern part of China, Suancai is usually sliced and cooked in a stew with pork and potato starch noodles, or used in the fillings of dumplings and baozi.
In southern China, we make Suancai Pork Sauce by dicing the vegetable into small pieces and cooking with minced pork, which is an easy-to-make meat sauce for white rice and noodles.
Here is a simple recipe for Suancai Pork Sauce
1. Use 600g of pork or beef minced meat, ideally with a little bit of fat.
2. Rinse 300g of Suancai Mustard under running water and leave it emerged for about 15 minutes to remove excess saltiness and sourness.
3. Dice the Suancai mustard
4. High heat, hot pan and oil in. Stir-fry the meat until it turns almost white, add Suancai mustard and stir. You can add garlic at this stage for more fragrance but it's optional.
5. Add water until it merely covers the ingredients, and start balancing the taste with a little bit of soy sauce and sugar. Add gradually and taste, there is no exact formula here.
6. Cover and turn the heat to medium, and let the sauce boil for about 10-15 minutes. Traditionally the sauce is quite dry (see last 2 images) compared to western meat sauce, but you can leave it with a bit more liquid as you like.
7. It can be stored in the fridge for up to one week, just heat it up and pour it over rice and noodle, and you will have a super easy, yummy and healthy meal!