Monday, January 15, 2018

a stir fry of sour mustard green with beef - 鹹菜炒牛肉

There are countless preserved vegetable in China. Some can be very difficult to find in the West. Some are simply non-existent there. One very common preserved vegetable is this sour mustard green. I think it is made in a very similar process as sauerkraut that the process is fermentation.

I have had very mixed result finding good sour mustard green here. Almost always those in a package are crap. My best luck are the ones sold in bulk that is very rare even in the best stocked Asian market. As of today I am only know of one in town.

I recently bought this packaged sour mustard green as I have some fresh mustard green and marinated beef that I can make a dish that I miss. It is a stir fry of sour mustard green with beef. This dish used to be quite common in Hong Kong as a casual dinning affordable dish. The mild sour note of the mustard green increases one's appetite. It is a savory dish with small amount of sugar used to balance the sourness and saltiness of the sour mustard green.

a store bought package sour mustard green; do not buy this brand (please read on)

Actually before I came across the sour mustard green, I already made this stir fry of mustard green with beef. The mustard green I used is tender small Asian one. I thought I would prepare a dish with both fresh mustard green and sour mustard green.

stir fry of fresh mustard green with beef

 here is the dish made with both fresh mustard green and sour mustard green

The key to the success of this dish is the balance of savory (saltiness) and sweetness. I only add a scant amount of sugar to balance the salty and sour of the preserved mustard green. To be honest the packaged sour mustard green from Thailand is poor and I can tell it is chemically processed. There was a lot of MSG added, as well as chemical vinegar as well as food colour. I only used a small amount and the rest I put into the rubbish. Rubbish unethical food product it is. In the future I would only buy the one in bulk that is made in USA, and only after I test taste to my satisfactory.

Update - Jan 20, 2018:
Being so underwhelmed with the sour mustard green from Thailand, a few days later I went shopping I bought a small head of mustard green. I wanted to take the matter into my own hands - attempt to make the sour mustard myself. I have made my own pickled baby cucumbers and I can eat them all day long over the store bought ones.

I picked this one that thick stems which is the best for sour mustard green

there are some rotting parts that I trimmed away; I also cut them into manageable pieces so not have to waste a lot of sea salt

the first step is to salt them - I use coarse sea salt from South Korea

When you make just a small batch at home, you cannot enjoy the economy of scale that making a big batch gives you. To conserve salt I have to turn the over a few time so all the pieces get to be salted - and have some moisture extracted. This process is what make them crunchy.

The next step is to drain off the salt. As the sour mustard green should taste slightly salty I only rinsed them lightly so to keep some saltiness. I then add in wine vinegar and store them in a Corning glass bowl.

In a day or so I test tasted the sour mustard. It is spot on, and taste as good as the bulk store bought that I have ever found. They are crunchy, and just mildly sour and with slight hint of saltiness. The best part is one can taste the natural sweetness of the mustard green, as well as the fresh mustard fragrance.

 I also made two batches of this pickled baby cucumbers

with this pickled baby cucumbers I add a small amount of sugar to balance the saltiness, sourness, and sweetness

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