Do you ever make something with the best intention and then shove it to the back of the fridge only to forget about it? That’s what happened to me and a jar of Chinese hot and sour napa cabbage. I’d made it around Chinese New Year and at the last minute, decided to not serve it because it didn’t go with the Vietnamese pickles that I’d prepared. I put it away, only to rediscover it months later this afternoon. It tasted fine and I ended up snacking on about a quarter of the jar before dinner. It’s suppose to be a palate arouser.
This is an unusual pickle for a couple of reasons. It’s tangy and spicy from the seasonings and the cabbage is salted and squeezed to eliminate excess moisture. Those are pretty standard approaches but there’s a stir-frying process involved which adds a touch of oil. The result is fatty tasting and luscious.
We don’t tend to think of pickles as being rich but the Chinese figured out a way to imbue that quality into humble napa cabbage. I was totally impressed after I initially made the pickled cabbage, but even more so months later when I found in the back of the fridge. Despite the chiles and ginger, this is no kimchi as there’s no fermentation. Just a friendly pickle.