Zhacai [tzar-chai], pressed mustard
Brassica juncea tumida
This weird looking pickled vegetable the shape of a fist is the swollen stem of a variety of mustard. Based on traditional pickling method, this special pickle originally from Szechuan was first created in 1898. The name Zhacai, meaning pressed vegetable, was inspired by the process employed to press out the salt water using bean curd press.
Zhacai in big earthern pots.
Pasir Panjang wholesale centre, Singapore
Though covered in chilli, it is not hot but extremely salty and should be cut to size and soaked to remove the salt before cooking. When only a small amount is used as a seasoning, no soaking is necessary but take care not to add any more salt to the dish. Cook only briefly to retain the crunchy texture.
An essential ingredient in Chinese Hot and Sour Soup. It is avialable in Chinese shops either loose or canned.
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