Mr. ABC Chef jokes that it’s Me(i)-Gan cai, and it has easily become one of his favorite things to eat, braised with pork. What IS mei gan cai ( 梅乾菜）? Before, I only knew that mei gan cai was some vegetable that was salted and then dried, but didn’t know much else, so I decided to do a little research..
So, this is what I learned- mustard greens are salted, (xue cai or xue li hong), fermented, (fu cai), then dried (mei gan cai). All these products are made from the humble mustard green and some salt..AMAZING. Check out some videos of the process- this and this were what I found.
Please eat me!
I decided to see what would happen if I added all the ingredients I liked together in a pot with chicken. So, I seriously just added a little bit of this, a little bit of that, tried to think what else would go with what, and went with it. The outcome? A new favorite! I don’t know if any real Sichuan person would nod his/her head in approval, or shake it in dismay, but I used components of what I know to star in Sichuan dishes, like chili peppers and peppercorns. Anyhow, this was my tribute to Sichuan in the form of a chicken dish. I want to name it Lee Family Spicy Chicken, because Tim has upping his spicy game, and can now eat from the same spicy dishes as the big kids (like me :D).
I like this dish a lot, not only because it is spicy and low maintenance ( just like me 😉 ), but because the ingredients are fairly standard ABC kitchen ingredients. For me, I happened to have all of these ingredients in my kitchen. Your mileage may vary, but the good thing is that these ingredients keep well, especially if you take my advice from a previous post and freeze your ginger! For some pictures of ingredients not commonly found at American grocery stores, visit this post on Sichuan spicy cooked fish to see what all these things are.
The third version of this chicken; the plainest looking but the best tasting!
Our dinner comprised of this chicken, in addition to stir-fried cabbage (that I made without the spicy peppers), and lots of rice.
Hui guo rou has a literal translation of ‘return-to-the-pot meat,’ which means that the meat is, well, returned to the pot, meaning that it’s cooked with two methods. First, the pork belly is boiled, then it is thinly sliced and sauteed with leeks and other ingredients. Hui guo rou is not one of the dishes that made it on my mom’s menus, but I remember first eating it (or at least remembering its name) sometime after college, and really enjoying it. When I found out that its roots were in Sichuan, it made sense, because I have not tried a Sichuan dish I don’t love.
When I called my grandma (my mom was in Europe) to ask how to make it, she confirmed that this was a 家常菜(jia1chang2cai4), which I translate as a homey-style dish, or home-cooking type of dish. Another vote for this dish!
Can you go wrong with pork belly? Or doufugan? Or leek? Hmmm. probably not.
Meanwhile, Simba and Pepper love to get in between me and my computer..
Hmm…what else can we do to make her give up on using the computer?
We like some pork with our leek in our family- this was 3 cups of leek!
One of our favorite places to eat authentic Taiwanese food in the US is Sinbala in Arcadia, CA. They have a dish called “spicy stir-fried with spicy” (辣炒辣, or la4chao3la4), which to my understanding means that it should contain peppers, peppers, and more peppers. Sinbala’s rendition was not very spicy, but it had a nice flavor. My dad remarked, “this would be easy to make at home!” So, here I am.
Disclaimer: I have no idea what the most “authentic” way to make this dish is. Many a google search in Chinese left me with no definitive answer. If you can eat the entirety of the amount that this recipe makes in one sitting, spicy props to you.
|I am thankful to be able to take this picture in the DAYTIME with natural light! HURRAY.|
Spicy Pepper Stir Fry
Makes around 1 cup
3 Tbsp chili oil or canola oil
1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1/4 cup string beans, finely chopped
20 Thai chili peppers, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
3 Tbsp finely chopped dried+salted radish (luo2buo1gan1 萝卜干)- optional if you can’t find it
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1) Add the chili oil to pan and add ginger and garlic while the oil is still cold. Heat the oil to medium high and stir until the ginger and garlic are fragrant, or until you can smell them.
2) Add the string beans, peppers, and radish, and stir fry until the string beans are just cooked, or longer if you like them softer.
3) Add salt and soy sauce.
4) Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold, with hopefully plenty of hot rice!