Thursday, October 04, 2007

Preserved Vegetables

My maternal grandmother was good at preserving vegetables. She made several types. When we had lots of long beans, she would dry them in the sun for two or three days and then have them rubbed in salt and the ang chow (or red yeast or lees) and then put them in the urn. This was really nice. Today, many many years later, this preserved ang chow long beans are not easy to find.

She also made chow chai or mustard green preserved in lees.

The same procedure is used to make this chow chai. We used lots of this preserved vegetables in cooking of the most famous Foochow noodle, called Chow Chai Hoon Ang (or Vermicelli in Preserved Vegetable asnd Meat soup)

The third type of preserved vegetables was the salted greens which was really very very good. Today they are availalbe in the supermarket, and it is either sold in loose bundles or in well designed plastic packages.

The greens were first dried in the sun and then given a salt rubbing treatment in order to get rid of any more moisture trapped in the vegetables. Then the vegetables would be placed in a covered urn. A little rice water would be added to give a kick start to the fermentation process.

As we grew older in Sibu, we learned other methods of preserving vegetables. One of them was the pickling of vegetables,Malay style.

Here is the recipe:

Start off with this mix of vegetables and then add/delete to suit your own
tastes - just do your own thing when it comes which vegetables to use.


2 carrots
1 large Chinese radish or lobat or Daikon in Japan)
1 large cucumber
4 red chillies
10 cm (4") piece of green ginger
8 spring onions (shallots)

Pickling mixture to be boiled in a good saucepan over a low heat, stirring slowly and then cooled .

2 1/4 cups of sugar (white)
2 1/4 cups white vinegar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/4 cup of water

Extra fragrant taste:

1. Roast a handful of peanuts (without the skin) and pound them finely.
2. Crush a few pieces of garlic and stir fry them quickly in a tablespoon of oil
3. Add one tablespoon of sugar and wait until it caramalizes.
4. Pour in the above pickling mixture and bring to the boil.
5. Cool and wait to bottle the vegetables.

How to prepare the vegetables:

* Thoroughly wash all the vegetables. Discard any bad bits. Peel and
cut up carrots, radish into 1 1/2" lengths then cut into thin
strips of around 1/4" . You can use a food processor if you want. The vegetables will be finer and nice to eat according to some food fans.

* Cut the cucumber lenghtwise, remove the seeds, and then cut up as for
carrots and radish.

* Cut the red chillies 1" strips

* Peel the ginger and cut into thin slices (thinner than the carrots
and radish).

* Bring a large saucepan of water to a brisk boil and add the
prepared vegetebles. Immediately remove from heat. Let the
vegetables stand for 2 minutes and then drain.

* Spread the vegetables on absorbent paper over wire rack and let them
dry for several hours until dry. (AS good afternoon sun is the best.

* When dry, pack the vegetables firmly into
clean Glass jars (like jam or honey bottles) and pour the pickling
liquid over them to completely cover the vegetables. (The jars
do not need to be sterilized - just clean.) When packing the
vegetables try and get an equal amount of each vegetable into
each jar - this way you won't end up with too much of any vegetable
in any one jar.

* Seal the jars and store in the refrigerator for at least a week
before using.
That's all there is to it.

This acar has a sweet, spicy taste and is excellent with the eating of prawn or fish crackers or Sarawak keropok.

I will post more Foochow recipes later on how to use the marvellous preserved vegetables.

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