|Chinese stir fried spicy cabbage|
One of the most famous Chinese paleographer, historian and writer Ji Xianlin once said, ‘…but the beautiful hopes often wave at me, as if there is a rose garden not far away, it is so colourful and fragrant…’
Having hope is the most beautiful and important thing in life. Having ‘beautiful hope’, it can make you carry happiness and positiveness all the way.
And that ‘little garden’, they say there is a garden in everyone’s heart, depending on how you look after it and appreciate it…:)
Although Mid Autumn Festival spirit is still around the corner, it’s time we start cooking everyday food again.
The weather is so … strange – sunny, cloudy, then rainy, back to sunny again, and me, warm, cold, hot … I think a little fever raised up in my body, affects my taste — I want something with strong taste, so I decided to make this dish - stir fry spicy and sour cabbage.
The original name of this dish is ‘La qiang lian bai’ in Chinese. (Lian bai is a formal name for round cabbage). Although it could probably be translated as ‘spicy cooked cabbage’?, I would miss the very important word ‘Qiang’, which is the essential to this dish.
The “Qiang” method of Cooking
Qiang is another common way of “stir frying”. It is not just
simply stir frying everything together, but rather “stir frying” the ‘seasonings’ first (in this case, is the spicy red chilli) until it is almost smoky, and use that smoke and heat to cook and influence the taste of the main ingredients.
The disadvantage of this method is that it could cause quite a lot of smoke, and because the oil in the wok needs to be very hot, it is likely to cause the ‘flame’, so you really need to be careful. :)
Spicy Cooked Cabbage
‘Spicy cooked cabbage’ is not an original recipe from North East China. The first time I had it was in a Sichuan cuisine restaurant years ago in my hometown with my friends — (see, I remember everything). Like most of the sichuan dishes, it has a distinguishing hot / spicy taste. I had to keep my mouth open and scream for a couple of minutes. Ha.. But that mix of spiciness and sourness is just too irresistible. So
I try to re-create it again and again. :)
This time I used sweetheart cabbage, but as I mentioned in my previous post ( Chinese spicy stir fried Romaine lettuce), the original recipe uses round cabbage.
Chinese round cabbage (Lian bai or Juan Xin Cai – as ‘curled towards heart vegetable’) is different from English ‘round cabbage’ – the leaves are thinner and juicier. The normal round cabbage would not work with this recipe, as the ‘Qiang’ method requires very quick cooking, where getting round cabbage to soften and absorb the taste normally takes longer.
The main taste of this dish is spicy – from the hot red chilli; and sour – not from normal rice vinegar, but from ‘old vinegar’, which makes the taste different to normal spicy and sour dish – especially in this recipe there is no sugar to balance the sourness.
I always think ‘old vinegar’ has very similar effect to balsamic vinegar, although the actual taste is not the exactly same. But in this recipe, somehow, the ‘old vinegar’ works a little magic with the spiciness. :)
The recipe: Chinese stir fried spicy and sour cabbage
Anyway, here you go, if you like spicy dishes. :)
2/3 (sweetheart) cabbage (for one plate)
Garlic, dried red chilli, old vinegar, salt, cooking wine.
1) Wash and chop the cabbage into smaller pieces.
|Washing the cabbage|
2) Chop around 3-4 gloves of garlic.
1) In a heated wok, pour in around 4 tablespoons of oil.
|Adding garlic and dried red chilli|
2) When the oil is hot enough, add chopped garlic, and a few dried red chilli in (I used three, since these chillis are very spicy, you can change the amount).
3) When you can smell the garlic and the chilli has well ‘influenced’ oil, you almost can see the ‘smoke’, add in chopped cabbage, mix well with the oil.
|Adding in the cabbage|
4) Add in one tablespoon of cooking wine, 2/3 teaspoon of salt, stir well.
|Adding the cooking wine|
5) When the cabbage gets softer in the wok, add in 1 1/2 tablespoon of old vinegar.
6) Stir fry for further 2 minutes —
Quick, no? Be careful the smoke, and the spill.
Have it with boiled rice, definitely boiled rice is good for in case the dish is too spicy. :))