One of my all time favorite Chinese flavors is Pickled Vegetables. They are a bit crunchy and sometimes spicy, but mostly they are salty and often have to be rinsed off before cutting them up to use them. They have a very special piquant flavor that may be an acquired taste for some, but I've never met anyone who didn't like them whenever I've served them. They are usually mustard roots or turnips that have been brined and can be found either in a can or in a little package (see below). I used to eat a lot of Pickled Vegetables in soup, but tonight I decided to make Pork with Pickled Vegetables as a kind of a stir-fry with ground Pork and Bean Thread Noodles. It ended up being a bit like Ants on a Tree (a previous post) but with a completely different flavor. And, if you add more chicken broth, it becomes a delicious soup too!
Ground Pork with Pickled Vegetables
1/2 pound Ground Pork
2 teaspoons Tamari + an additional 1 - 2 Tablespoons for later
2 teaspoons Shaoshing Rice Wine
4 green onions, ends trimmed, cut into small pieces, white and green parts separated
1 Tablespoon light-tasting Oil
1/2 cup of Pickled Vegetables, cut into small pieces (rinsed if necessary)
2 bundles (2 oz each) Bean Thread Noodles
1 cup or more Chicken Broth (for soup)
1/2 teaspoon Sesame Oil
Optional: 1 Tablespoon Chili Garlic Sauce
Put Bean Thread Noodles into a large bowl and cover with hot tap water. Leave to soak for at least 30 minutes.
Put ground Pork into a small bowl and add the 2 teaspoons each of Tamari and Rice Wine. Mix to incorporate and let marinate for at least 10 minutes.
Heat Oil in a large frying pan with high sides or a wok until hot, add the white part of the Green Onions and cook until softened, stirring frequently. Add in the ground Pork and stir until it is no longer pink. Then add in the Pickled Vegetables. Drain the Bean Thread Noodles and add in with the Chicken Broth. Season with the additional Tamari and Sesame Oil and Chili Garlic Sauce if using and bring to a boil. To make soup, add more broth. Sprinkle with the green part of the Green Onions. Serve immediately.
Five Element Analysis
Pickled Vegetables in this case are not actually not that sour; they are actually quite salty so they belong mostly to the Water Element as does the pork. And, the Tamari and Sesame Oil add even more. So, this is a mostly Watery Food, especially if served as a soup. The Bean Thread noodles and the Green Onions contribute the Metal Element and the Chicken Broth and the sour part of the Pickled Vegetables bring in the Wood Element. The Rice Wine brings in a hint of the Fire Element and if you use the Chili Garlic Sauce then the Fire Element gets represented more fully. Then, only the Earth Element is missing so be sure to serve this soup with an Earthy food, which is quite easy to add with a little something sweet after.