After working through three batches of Sauerkraut we finally got down to business and made what we bought the fermenting crockpot for. That would be, to make Suan Cai, which literally means "sour vegetable". Of course, being that the Missus is from QingDao, this was the napa cabbage version with three main ingredients:
Actually, this was really easy. You look for fairly hefty napa cabbage. Half or quarter, use 8 grams of kosher salt per kilo, stuff into the crock, press down hard, and place the stones on the cabbage. Cover and use the water seal. There wasn't enough liquid to cover, so we did a check after the 5th day, pressed down more....by the 10th day things were really getting good....and pretty smelly in our hallway. We checked and found that enough liquid had now been drawn out of the cabbage to cover the whole batch. At 15 days, things looked pretty good......the Missus tore off a piece and handed it to me, telling me to "eat....eat"..... With some trepidation I had a taste and you could tell it was on it's way...at which time the Missus decided that I wasn't going to drop dead and had a taste Herself. The Missus' Aunt told Her it would take 22 days....why 22 days, I haven't a clue, it just seemed so random. When we opened the crock to check at 20 days, you could just tell by the color of the liquid and cabbage that it was ready. I had a bite and....it really tasted good; I mean really good, a sour-nutty, but not too salty flavor, the texture was perfect, with a nice crunchiness to it. It doesn't have that too salty-metallic twinge of the stuff you get at the market, loaded with nitrites and other preservatives...this one is salt, cabbage, and a lot of help from mother nature.
We shared some with "YZ" who said it was plain delicious. Folks that have read our blog over the years know that I love Suan Cai Yang Rou and Chao Suan Cai....strange because I wasn't raised on the stuff, but there's just something about those dishes I love. It's a bit too hot right now to make those dishes.....but I better get on it soon......we've been just eating the suan cai straight up with various dishes like Red Cooked Chicken, it helps to cut the richness and fat....plus, we're getting the benefit of the fermentation. If we keep going at this pace, there won't be anything left to cook. Luckily, there's another crock of the stuff bubbling away in our hallway.
Strange as it seems, dishes made with suan cai have become comfort food for me. Which leads me to my question. What food items or dishes that you hadn't had until you were an adult have become comfort food for you?