Xue cai with winter bamboo.
The Shanghainese are crazy for green soy beans (mao dou, hairy beans) and sun (bamboo; pronounced "sooen"). My MIL requests for mao dou and sun whenever someone is visiting from Shanghai. Recently we've been able to get frozen mao dou at Merdeka Supermarket (Recipes House in Damai has it too but at a much higher price and the peas are smaller) and winter bamboo (dong sun) in Thai Seng Supermarket next to Kian Kok High School.
Winter bamboo has a subtle, refreshing flavor and a crisp bite. If the bamboo is fresh and good, it will have a slight sweetness. Xue cai is a salted veg that is used widely in Shanghainese cooking. Xue cai is sold in little packets or tins or in large drums in Shanghainese markets. They look like rape leaves although I'm not certain.
You can fry the bamboo first, before frying the xue cai, especially of you don't parboil it. Season with salt and sugar, then push the bamboo to the side of the wok the old-fashioned way and fry the xue cai. I have fried the xue cai first because the bamboo were parboiled. Either way, the result is the same--a delicious plate of veggies that goes well with plain boiled rice.
Peel the bamboo until you get to the tip.
Cut off the hard sides and stem. The edible young shoot is only about 1/2 the size of the unpeeled bamboo.
Slice the bamboo thinly.
Xue cai comes in small packets or tin, or in large jars. They are well-seasoned and makes any dish awesome.
Xue Cai With Winter Bamboo
300 gm winter bamboo (after peeling and trimming)
150 gm xue cai
pinch of sugar
veg oil for frying
1. Slice the bamboo thinly. You can cut them into strips too. Boil a small pot of water and plunge the sliced bamboo in, cover, and when water comes to a boil again, let it boil for 1 minute and then switch off the fire. Drain the water away. My MIL doesn't parboil the bamboo but I prefer to because sometimes the bamboo gives a strange sensation on the sides of the tongue.
2. Wash the xue cai twice and squeeze to remove the water. Do not soak or the taste and flavor will be diluted.
3. Put about 2 T oil into a heated wok and fry the bamboo. Add a tiny pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of fine sugar. Fry, add 1/4 cup water and cover for a minute. Remove cover and fry until all liquid is gone. Remove onto a plate. Alternatively, you can also fry the xue xai first especially if you have boiled the bamboo.
4. Put a tablespoon (authentic Shanghainese cooking is greasy so you can add 2 T oil if like) of oil into the same heated wok and fry the xue cai until it looks dry. Takes about 2 minutes.
5. Add the fried bamboo, fry and toss to mix and blend the flavors. If there's liquid, fry until it's just evaporated. Dish up.