Sunday, May 02, 2010

Stir-Fry Szechuan Preserved Vegetable with Meat

This is my sister Elizabeth favorite dish so my mom cooked this pretty often in our home. Zha Chai or Szechuan preserved vegetable is easily available at the Asian store here in the US. It either comes whole in a can or ready shredded in a vacuum packed. In Malaysia it’s sold whole and coated with chili paste. Zha chai is very salty so I will usually cut and soak in the water for a several hours before cooking it. This dish is spicy, salty and sweet and it goes well with rice or rice porridge.

1 packet (8 oz) preserved vegetables
1 chicken breast/4 oz of pork – Slice thinly
3 cloves garlic – chopped
1 shallot – sliced thinly
1” ginger – julienned
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sugar

1. In a frying pan, heat up about 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add in the garlic, shallot and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant and lightly brown.
2. Add in the meat; stir fry until the meat changes color. Add in the shredded Szechuan vegetables, soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sugar. Add in about ¼ cup of water and bring it up to boil.
3. Continue to stir-fry for a minute or two or until all liquid evaporate. Check seasoning. At this stage you can adjust the sweetness and saltiness to your liking.
4. Serve with either rice or rice porridge.

Note: If you use the whole preserved vegetable, julienned it thinly and soak it in water for a couple of hours. If you use the pre-shredded kind with chili, it is up to you if you want to rinse or soak it or not.


wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... said...

Oh now we have those shredded in packs, and they are much less salty and spicy than those sold as whole.Instead those in packs are more peppery than hot with chilli.

I always use those in packs to make Szechuan Chicken Noodle Soup, and they taste absolutely marvellous. I don't think I'll use those sold whole smothered in chilli, it doesn't taste much the same.

Lucy said...

my mummy cooks this too! oh dear, thank you for posting this up. reminds me so much of home!

Angie said...

Gert, I made that a few weeks ago but it was too salty. Guess I have to soak the Szechuan vegetables for several hours. I think I managed to soak them for only 20 minutes or so. Thanks.

Yee Er said...

I love this dish too. But I found the zha chai that i bought here will lost its saltyness if i soak them, unlike the zha chai that i bought in my hometown. i just have to soak them for at least half an hour b4 i cook them.

Anncoo said...

I love this dish too with extra chilli.

Little Inbox said...

Hmm...I would like to have some bird's eye chili in it too. Serve it with porridge, hmm...yummy!

ReeseKitchen said...

Oh this is my favourite of all...I can hv my white steam rice with just this dish..:) I always try to panfry the meat first coz I like the hard and crispy texture..haha!
You remind me that I hv to cook this for dinner tonight..hee hee..;p

MaryMoh said...

I love this dish with lots of fried garlic added..mmmm

Quinn said...

This is so Hokkien to me, we always eat this when we have plain porridge night every Thursday back in Malaysia. The last time I tried to replicate this, I think I bought the wrong Zha Chai. It tasted no where near home! And there's like more than 6 types of preserved vegetables sitting across the shelves, how to get the correct one Gert????

PlumLeaf 李葉 said...

I like this too! But I think mum sometimes uses it when stir-frying green beans and pork and adds it in!
I buy the little pouches as it's so much easier when cooking for two people - I give it a quick rinse but I think it's ready to eat from packet - it's already shredded too!

pigpigscorner said...

I always have a stash of preserved veg =) so good with rice/ porridge.

daphne said...

I have to say I miss this..hubby doesnt like it so we rarely eat it at all. But I am missing this with rice porridge for sure.

tasteofbeirut said...

Looks absolutely delicious and I have never used preserved vegetables before! Thanks for the great idea!

Jo said...

I love this especially with porridge. Whenever I am back in KL and we go for a meal at Esquire Kitchen, this is a must dish on our menu.

Cheah said...

This pairs very well with white porridge. Also, a soup with this preserved veggie is also very appetising.

Anonymous said...

I had this dish back in Honolulu, Hawaii. I thought only Jungshanese make it now I know other Chinese also. This is so family style and made me fond of childhood.

Sam said...

I just had this for dinner!
Sometimes i use pork mince and a dash of chilli flakes or a few slices of chilli, depending what's available in my pantry..
my late grandma used the ones that are sold as whole (with chilli) to make soup, but i can't remember what else she put in it. Can someone please share the recipe with me?

Little Corner of Mine said...

Lovely! One restaurant here added green beans in this stir-fried dish, yummy!

ICook4Fun said...

Wendy, I too find the shredded kind better and not so salty. I nevery try the szechuan noodle before. I will try to order some the next time I eat at the Chinese reastaurant.

Lucy, you are most welcome.

Angie, did you used the whole kind? I find the shredded one not as salty.

Yee Er, I prefer to soak them first and when I cook it I can control the saltiness to my liking.

Anncoo, sometime I do put some chili padi to it.

Little Inbox, I am Hokkien so we eat this a lot with porridge :)

Reese, if I cooked it with pork belly than I will brown and crisp up the meat first but for this I used the lean pork so I don't want to cook it for too long :)

Mary, me too :)

ICook4Fun said...

Quinn, when I was young my grandmother used cook us porridge for lunch everyday. This will be one of the dish she cooked beside boil salted eggs, fried ikan bilis and kacang :) Do they sell the pre-shredded kind that comes in a vacuum packed? That one is pretty good.

Plum Leaf, I never try it with green beans in it. Maybe the next time I cook this I will add some in.

Pigpigcorner, yeap :)

Daphne, my husband doesn't like it either but I still cook it for myself :)

Tasteofbeirut, you should try it sometime.

Jo, I love Esquire Kitche too. I used to think they served the best Chinese food :) :)

Cheah, mmmm the soup sounds good.

Anon, yes we Chinese eat a lot of preserved vegetables.

Sam, if I can remember well I think my mom and grandmother put pork ribs, tomatoes, tofu, onions and some potatoes in the soup.

LCOM, I shold try that out one day.

Kitchen Corner said...

Oh.. I like to eat this with porridge, Very appetizing one@

babe_kl said...

i loved this simple dish, best with jook yums

noobcook said...

This is a dish I grew up on ... my mum's "拿手好菜" (specialty). She added sliced chilli and dark soy sauce to hers... and I can eat a big plate all by myself with plain porridge.

My Little Space said...

This has to be my hubby favourite dish! His family also love it. Maybe Hakka prefer to take salty food like salted fish, ikan bilis, dried shrimps, salted eggs, 'ham choy', 'dong choy', 'mui choy' and szechuan 'cai'. My in-laws love eating those dried cuttlefish as well! I'm 'kwang dong'! So, we have very different taste in food. Btw, hakka loves boiling soup with 'dai tou choy'! I think it was fabulous!

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

this is my family favourite too, best to serve with porridge!

tigerfish said...

This is very appetizing. I like to eat them with plain congee.

ICook4Fun said...

Kitchen Corner, I grew up eating this dish with rice porridge.

Babe, ha ha each and everyone of us knew about this dish.

Noobcook, yea my mom will add a lot of dark soy sauce to this dish sometimes.

My Little Space, yea I know Hakka people like to eat a lot of pickle veggies. A friend of mine here like pickle daikon too. oh I like dai tou choy too in soup of steam with minced meat.

Sonia, yes great with porridge.

Tigerfish, yeap.

A Full-Timed Housefly said...

I cooked this recently for lunch to go with plain porridge , yours look so yummy

mycookinghut said...

This is such a classic dish. I like this since young but have sort of forgotten about it.. thanks for reminding me ;)

ICook4Fun said...

Full timed housefly, thanks.

Leemei, yea we used to eat this a lot during childhood with porridge. So typical of Hokkien people :)

Anonymous said...

if you can't use Chinese preserved vegetable - would pickled gherkins work as well??

ICook4Fun said...

Anon, I don't think gherkins will work on this dish. If you can find salted/pickle mustard (kiam chye) it will be a better alternative.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I've always loved this dish and order it when eating out. I've never found it spicy in the least, which I prefer since I'm quite a coward when it comes to chili. This will be the first time I try to cook this. Does soaking the zha cai the way you do in the recipe fully remove the spiciness? And could I substitute zha cai for kiam chye (just the root parts)? Thanks!