Mustard greens are known in Chinese as 'greens heart' because only the heart of the plant is eaten, that is the stem, buds and young leaf. They are unrelated to and quite unlike the mustard greens of the American south. These greens are a vital part of the Chinese diet, being rich in vitamins and minerals and easy to cultivate. As such, they are enjoyed year-round, either fresh or preserved. The leaves are pickled with salt, water, vinegar and sugar, making a true sweet and sour food that is used as a vegetable or as a flavoring ingredient, especially in soups. Mustard greens can be served as a snack or used in stir-fries with meats, poultry, or fish
The liquid contents of the package can be used to flavor soup. Rinse the greens in fresh water and cut the mustard green into one inch chunks and put those chunks as a topping seasoning for dishes.
For your reference
- Pickled mustard greens, pao cai. Pao cai is a type of pickle, usually pickled cabbage, often found in Chinese, and particularly Sichuanese cuisine. It is most common to northern and western China; however, there is also a unique form of pao cai, called suan cai, which is prominent in Northeast China.
Chinese pao cai closely resembles Korean kimchi (which is usually called "Han Guo pao cai" in Chinese), both in content and in preparation, but it tends to be sweet and sour rather than spicy. It is often eaten with congee as a breakfast food.
- Preserved mustard greens, suan cai. "Tianjin preserved vegetable" is a substitute. This is available in our store. Tientsin preserved vegetable or Tianjin preserved cabbage) is a type of pickled Chinese cabbage originating in Tianjin, China. It consists of finely chopped Tianjin cabbage (a variety of Chinese cabbage with an elongated shape) and salt. Garlic is also generally added in the pickling process, although it is omitted in versions prepared for consumption by members of certain Chinese Buddhist sects, who practice strict vegetarianism and do not consume garlic or other spicy foods.. This pickled vegetable is used to flavor stir fried or stewed dishes.
- Preserved (but actually pressed) mustard tuber, zha cai. Sold as "Sichuan preserved vegetable in a can in our store".
The pickle is made from the knobby, fist-sized, swollen green stem of Brassica juncea, subspecies tatsai. The stem is first salted, pressed, and dried before being rubbed with hot chile paste and allowed to ferment in an earthenware jar. This preservation process is similar to that used to produce Korean kimchi.
The taste is a combination of spicy, sour, and salty, while the aroma is similar to sauerkraut with hot chili paste. Its unique texture -- crunchy, yet tender -- can only be vaguely compared to western pickled cucumbers. Zha cai is generally washed prior to use in order to remove the chili paste and excess salt coating the preserved vegetable. Depending on the region and the brand, the flavor can be on the sweet, spicy, salty, or sour side.
Although originating in Sichuan, zha cai is also used frequently in the cuisines of southern China, particularly in a soup made with ground pork and mifen, and also as a condiment added to rice congee. It is generally sliced into thin strips and used in small amounts due to its extreme saltiness, although this saltiness can be tempered somewhat by soaking the strips in water prior to use.
A popular Chinese dish featuring zha cai is "Noodles with Zha Cai and Shredded Pork" (?????; zhà cài ròusi miàn). Zha cai is also an ingredient of ci fan tuan, a popular dish in Shanghai cuisine.