Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Friday Food 31 – Zha Cai

Friday food is a weekly article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This week, we are going to Sichuan for some Zha Cai.

Zha cai 榨菜

Zha cai or 榨菜 or ‘preserved mustard tuber’ is a pickle from Sichuan.

The pickle is made from the large swollen green stem of Brassica juncea, subspecies tatsai known as mustard greens, Chinese mustard, or leaf mustard. The stem is first salted, pressed, and dried before being rubbed with hot red chilli paste and allowed to ferment in an earthenware jar. This preservation process is similar to that used to produce Korean kimchi.

The pickle has a crisp texture and the taste is a combination of spicy, sour, and salty, while the aroma is similar to sauerkraut with hot chilli paste.

Although it originated in Sichuan, zha cai is used throughout China in soups, with ground pork and rice noodles, and as a condiment with congee or rice porridge.

The best is said to be that from Sichuan’s Fuling county and it is sold in supermarkets in small bags costing around ¥2 to ¥3

. This entry was posted on Friday, June 15th, 2012 at 10:00 am and is filed under Food and Drink, Friday Food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Friday Food 31 – Zha Cai”

  1. Maria Says:

    I want to thank you for you weekly culinary bulletin, I read it with great interest. Is minced zha cai used as an ingredient in the Sichuan noodle dish dandan mian?

  2. Liuzhou Laowai Says:

    Thank you for your kind comment.

    It is more traditional to use 芽菜 (yá cài) in Dandan Mian. Ya cai is made from the tender leaves of a variety of mustard green, whereas Zha cai is the more robust mustard tuber.

    Ya cai  芽菜


  3. Ray Ducray Says:

    Good to have met you today. Was doing “hunter, gatherer” bit today. The “single” garlic, Du Suan, is excellent to use. Only peel once, and much more taste than the other variety.

  4. Maria Says:


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