When various vegetables or fruits are fermented by pickling with salt and brine or marinated in mixtures based on soy sauce or savoury bean pastes, different Chinese pickles are formed. Chinese cabbage, carrot, apple, pineapple and other high-fibre vegetables and fruits are used in the preparation of the former while in the preparation of the latter, different vegetables like cucumbers, winter melon and radishes are used. Chinese pickles are available in a wide range of varieties. You may find Chinese pickles in authentic Chinese restaurants.
The Zhou dynasty of 1100 B.C.E. saw the early preparation of Chinese pickles. The vegetables and fruits used in the preparation of Chinese pickles were known to people from the sixth century B.C.E. However, the vegetables and fruits pickled at that time served the purpose of preserving the food for a longer time.
Sweet, sour, pungent, salty, bitter and savoury are the flavours that need to be balanced in Chinese pickles. Some pickles are also spicy with floral notes. For the vegetables and fruit to ferment, most pickles need to wait for a few months. However, people can also eat some pickles after a few hours or a few days. In the preparation of a Chinese dish, pickles are used or they can be also eaten directly as an appetizer. In Chinese restaurants, pickling ginger and pickling pepper are most frequently used to prepare Chinese food. The flavour of vegetable, meat, poultry and seafood is also enhanced by the use of this. The list of popular Chinese pickles is quite long. Here we will discuss some of them.
With the help of Lactic acid bacteria, vegetables and plums are fermented after they are salted.
- Meigan cai:
In the preparation of this pickle, a whole head of various varieties of Chinese mustards and cabbages are used. The process consists of drying, steaming and salting the ingredients.
- Suan cai:
This is actually the name of a type of pickled Chinese cabbage. In Northern China, Napa cabbage is used whereas there is the use of thick stalk varieties of Chinese mustard in Southern China.
- Ya cai:
The Sichuan province of China is the place of origin of Ya cai, a type of pickled vegetable. The upper stems of a variety of mustard green are used to make this pickle.
In a soy sauce mixture with sugar, vinegar, salt and additional spices, vegetables are usually marinated.
- Pao cai:
In this pickle, cabbage, mustard stems, long beans, peppers, daikon, carrots and ginger are normally used. In Northern and Western China, it is most common.