Humans have been consuming vegetables since ancient times due to their nutritional benefits. If you have been to China, you have probably heard about pao cai. This is a popular Chinese vegetable that is fermented. Read on to find out more!
What does pao cai mean?
Pao cai means Chinese pickles. also romanization as Pao tsai. This is made using carrots, daikon, ginger, long beans, radish mustard stems, pepper, and cabbage. It is popular in Western and Northern China. These vegetables are fermented in a certain jar that has pao cai brine. Chinese pickles are found in Sichuan Cuisine. This fresh pickle varies in the method of production and taste in different Chinese regions.
During ancient times, the Chinese used methods such as salting and pickling to preserve their vegetables. They made pao cai by putting washed vegetables in an earthenware jar for it to ferment for a particular period together with brine which was made of different spices,
Different poems in China have records of pickled vegetables. In different dynasties, such as the Zhou and Song Dynasties, historical records about Pao cai exist. Pao cai is a national heritage in China that has been relevant up to date.
When was pao cai invented?
Pao cai is Chinese pickles that can be traced back to 2000 years ago. The first jar of these Chinese pickles appeared during the Three Kingdoms era (220-280).
Why paocai was invented
Pao cai was invented as the Chinese looked for a way to preserve their vegetables. They could harvest vegetables from their farms and had to come up with a way to store them. Sichuan pao cai is a representative of fermented vegetables that were first invented and consumed in Southwestern China.
It was used as a side dish or appetizer due to its crisp texture. After the invention of pickled vegetables, they started using them as a form of dowry in Northern and Southern Sichuan.
How to make paocai
Start by gathering the ingredients for Pao cai. You need Chinese cabbage, radish, carrots, cucumbers, turnips, ginger, sugar, vinegar, Szechuan peppercorns, water, and pickling salt. Cut the cabbage into strips of around ⅛ inches and peel the rest of the ingredients. If you don’t want the pickled vegetables to be too spicy, you can use fewer hot peppers. Fill a jar with the cabbage and then pour the pickling solution over it. Let it stand for a few hours before refrigerating the Pao cai.
Difference between paocai and kimchi
Pao cai originates from China, while kimchi comes from Korea. Pao cai is spicy, while kimchi is sweet. While making pao cai, fermented seafood and spring onions are not added like in the case of preparing kimchi. Also, the method of preparation between the two differs in that kimchi involves a secondary fermentation process while pao cai does not.
Pao cai are preserved Chinese vegetables that have been in existence for a long time. Many Chinese like pao cai since it is a great appetizer for different dishes like Chinese dumplings. Now that you have an understanding of pao cai, you will have an idea of what it is next time you visit a Chinese restaurant.