Take fresh mustard green and let it dry under the sun before rubbing with salt and pickling. While the vegetable still holds some moisture, it needs to be stored in a jar to continue the pickling process for few months. One other more popular ingredient suan cai, or 酸菜, which is the dark green colored condiment added in Taiwanese beef noodles, is also made with mustard green. However, the process is slightly different and usually can be made in just a few weeks. In addition, suan cai tastes sourish but fu cai on the other hand, is very aromatic with little sourish taste remains.
Fu cai is not as popular compared to suan cai in the states, so it can be quite challenging to get a hold of it. Try your local Chinese grocery store, fu cai can be found either in a big bucket, meaning still pickling, or sealed in air-tight plastic packaging.
Taiwanese fu cai and meatballs stew 福菜肉丸 -
- 1 lb of ground pork
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 stalk of scallion
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 2 bundles of fu cai
- 9 to 12 deep fried tofu curd 油豆腐
- 4 garlic cloves
- 8 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of soy sauce
Rinse the fu cai with running water. Make sure to extend each leaves and rinse with running water. Some dusts might get trapped in between during the sun-drying process. Once done, cut the fu cai into large bite size pieces. If the stems are too hard, cut into small pieces so they get cooked through and softened more easily.
Chop off and discard the tough ends from the garlic cloves, peel and give the remaining a fine chop. Chop off and discard the scallion stem. Chop the remaining into small pieces.
Mix together all the ingredients under meatballs section and let it sit for 10 minutes. Form the mixture into meatballs. You can form a small ball first and throw it in between your palms in order to drive out any air trapped inside. This step also helps the meatballs stay in shape when first adding into the stew liquid. Click on the link or the picture, it'll lead you to my Instagram video showing my throwing back and forth motion.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the fried tofu curd. This process helps in cleaning the tofu curd and wash out any excess oil. Bring to a boil again and cook for one to two minutes. Once ready, drain out the water and set aside for later use.
Take a big pot, add in 8 cups of water, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 4 peeled garlic cloves, and chopped fu cai. Bring to a boil, add in the meatballs along with fried tofu curd.
Bring to a boil again and lower the heat to keep the pot simmer. Cover with lid and cook for 2 hours, or minimum one hour so the aroma from the fu cai can be fully released into the stew.
Be careful when biting into the tofu curd because the stew juice will burst in your mouth!
I like to eat it with steamed rice. You can also use the stew as the base for noodles. Just remember to add some more black bean soy sauce and perhaps a spoonful of chili sauce to jazz up the flavors.