Winter preparations part II – 酸菜 edition

Just after I published my last post about the preparations for winter here in Dalian, I realised I forgot to cover what’s been going on here the last few weeks. Namely, I’ve seen a lot of cabbage. And I mean A LOT. One day we arrived at my parents-in-law’s home to see over 50 big 大白菜 cabbages laid out on the floor. Then there’s the cabbage truck which has been arriving in our 小区 compound with a whole truck full of cabbages, and leaving with them all gone. I think everyone except us must have bought some, and most people bought almost as many as my mother-in-law.


My MiL’s cabbage haul


One of our neighbours has stored their haul at the bottom of our stairwell











And here’s another few neighbours’ cabbage piles


And here’s a line of cabbages










So why?

Well I’ve been lead to believe that all the cabbages are in fact to make 酸菜 suancai, or pickled/preserved cabbage. Chinese sauerkraut it’s referred to on Wikipedia. It’s a big deal in the 东北 North East of China. I suppose in days gone by, when fruit and vegetables were very much seasonal, vegetables were much scarcer in winter, and preserving the vegetables was necessary to have some green on your plate during the cold winter months.

As my mother-in-law told me, in this region, it’s made from soaking the cabbage leaves in salt water for a month or so, using a large clay barrel. In other regions, chillis and spices are involved too. It’s not the only vegetable that’s preserved, I’ve seen quite a lot of people drying out their Chinese radishes to be pickled too.

Traditionally it is then used in pork dishes, to make warming winter pork stew (冻豆腐 frozen tofu for me), often with 粉条 vermicelli. Having seen how much my mother-in-law has made, no doubt quite a bit will come our way when it’s ready. I just hope I like it!


Typical North East pork and cabbage stew 酸菜炖肉

Have you seen this phenomenon where you are? Will I like Chinese sauerkraut?

5 thoughts on “Winter preparations part II – 酸菜 edition

  1. Wonder how Chinese sauerkraut is. Read a lot about it before but never tried it. Of course I have some experiences with sauerkraut as a German so I really wonder how different it is in far away China


  2. The pictures look amazing. They look like the German pickled cabbage but in a stew. I never tired the Chinese version myself, so I don’t know what it taste like. But the German one are very tasty especially if it is served as a side dish to the sausages. 🙂


  3. I just made my first batch of sauerkraut. It tastes correct but the cabbage is really soft and has no crunch. Any idea what I’m doing wrong?


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