Category: Ingredients

Sourcing Yibin Suimi Yacai (Preserved Mustard Greens)

Yibin Yacai: The Queen of Sichuan Pickles~~ Yacai is another one of those only-in-Sichuan ingredients. All of China loves a preserved vegetable, but this particular example—fermented mustard green stems—is made only in Yibin, a county in southern Sichuan Province. Yibin yacai is used most famously in dan dan noodles and gan bian si ji dou (dry-fried green beans), where it is absolutely indispensable. But it also provides a deep veggie essence to all kinds of sauces and dishes in Sichuan cooking. I have never made it to Yibin, but my...

Sourcing Tian Mian Jiang (Sweet Wheat Paste)

Tian Mian Jiang, or the Glory of Sichuan’s Fermented Sauces~~ This unassuming little ingredient is way more powerful than it lets on. Called sweet wheat paste or sweet soybean paste, it is yet another member of the family of fantastically tasty and useful Asian bean sauces. Don’t even get me started on the glory of fermented bean pastes…other than to say my pantry and fridge include four kinds of Chinese bean sauces (sweet bean, chili bean, yellow bean and hoisin) as well as two kinds of Korean and two kinds of...

Sourcing Wei Jing (MSG)

MSG: Umami by a Different Name~~ Many of the recipes in Sichuan Cuisine in Both Chinese and English call for monosodium glutamate, or wei jing as the Chinese call it and “gourmet powder” as they translate it. Of course they do. The book was written in China, where MSG is as widely added to food as it is widely present naturally. Leave it out if you like, but when these recipes call for it, I usually use it, because I have tasted how a tiny amount dials up the flavor tremendously. Plus,...