In Chinese cooking, there is a variety of preserved vegetables that can be used. For this dish, it has to use the one that is also known as pickled Chinese mustard (味菜 or 酸菜, Suan Cai), fermented by pickling with salt and brine. To prepare the suan cai, it only involves three steps: soaking in salted water, rinse with plenty of water and stir-frying with vinegar and sugar to adjust the taste to preference. I learned the trick from my mother-in-law, who is experienced in cooking suan cai.
When it comes to cooking suan cai, an important note for all my readers who love Chinese cuisine: we have to use the stainless steel wok or pan to cook it for the sake of health, because stainless steel won’t react to vinegar at any temperature
- 300 gm beef fillet, julienned
- 60 gm preserved vegetable (味菜 pickled Chinese mustard)
- 1/4 green capsicum
- 1/4 red capsicum
- 2 Tbsp chicken stock
- 1 tsp minced garlic
Seasoning for preserved vegetable:
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar (or adjust to your preference)
- 1 Tbsp white sugar (or adjust to your preference)
- 2 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp water
- a dash of sesame oil
- a pinch of white pepper
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp water
- Add a teaspoon of salt in a bowl of water. Soak the preserved vegetable in salted water for half an hour. Wash with plenty of water and rinse well. Squeeze out excess water. Roughly cut into smaller pieces. Mix beef with marinade for about 20 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or frypan. Sauté beef over medium to high heat until 80% done. Don’t cook the beef through at this stage yet, because you will stir fry the beef with other ingredients and cook some more time. If the beef is overcooked, the texture would be too tough otherwise.
- Dry fry the preserved vegetable (no need to add any oil) in a stainless steel wok or pan over low heat. Add vinegar and sugar and stir all the way through. Taste and adjust the amount of vinegar and sugar until you are satisfied.
- Use the same pan you stir fried the beef. Add more oil to sauté garlic over medium-high heat until aromatic. Add green and red capsicum. Pour 2 tablespoons of chicken stock and cook until dry up a bit. Toss in preserved vegetable and beef. Quickly stir fry and combine all ingredients well. Add thickening and cook to your preferred consistency. Serve hot.