There are so many Chinese preserves I can barely list them all. Each region has their own, with different processing techniques, from different vegetables, with different spices etc. Growing up where I did, I knew the ones my mother used and the ones I saw in the market. When I came to London, I discovered there were many many many more than I had ever been exposed to. And some of the familiar ones from home weren’t available here.
One of my favourite is called Tung Choy. Lucky for me – it is widely available here too. It comes in little earthenware pots and the ingredients list says tianjin cabbage, garlic and salt. It is often used in meatballs, congee and soups.
It is very very very salty, and I normally rinse it the preserve in warm or hot water a couple of times before using it. It depends on how much I’m using, what type of dish, and how much salt from other ingredients is going into it. It is safe to eat straight out of the jar – if a little salty.. so if you see it anyway, have a little taste!
I love it because it imparts a savoury garlicky flavour with a subtle hint of the cabbage it is made of. I can’t explain why I love it so much.. but I just do and the taste of it reminds me of my father and grandmother so very very much. They make congee with the preserve and minced pork when someone is ill, and the smell and taste of it just reminds me of that.
Today I made a very simple stir fry for the lunchboxes for the week. 4 carrots (15p), 1 medium broccoli (40p), minced beef(£1.50), garlic & tung choy. With rice as usual.
The order of cooking goes ;-
- Heat oil & garlic
- Brown the beef
- Add about 1-2 tbsp of rinsed tianjin preserve, stir
- Add carrots & broccoli, stir
- Add 2 tbsp of water, cover & steam until veges are cooked,
- Stir, taste, add salt/etc if required
- Serve with rice
This made up a lot, far more than I intended. I ended up with 4 filled lunch boxes plus tonight’s dinner. That’s 5 meals for under £2.50. What’s that… 50p a meal roughly, not including overheads? Not bad at all I think. Heh. I’m saving money to go back to school… so while I’m not broke.. every penny that goes into the piggy bank will mean putting off taking a loan, which is a goooooood thing.