3. Hakka pickles


Hakka people live in the mountain and forest. In order to preserve food, they have developed special skills. Pickled vegetables have always been a Hakka specialty, enabling various kinds of vegetables to become foods that can be preserved for a long time. In addition, many dishes have been invented as a result. For instance, dried radish bits are used to make the stuffing of Zongzi, shredded radish is used to make the stuffing of Caibao or stir-fried with eggs, while radish chips are made to make soups. Some people believe dried radish bits stored for some twenty, thirty years can be used to make tea or eaten for lowering internal heat or curing sore throat. These examples explain how thoroughly radish is used by Hakka people.

Like radish, leaf mustard is another vegetable grown by Hakka people while rice paddies are left fallow. Hakka people use their proficient pickle skill to pickle leaf mustard, making many famous Hakka specialties out of it. Most people cannot tell the difference between Suancai, Fucai, and Meigancai. Their difference lies in the degree of dryness.

Add salt to leaf mustard, tread out water and put it in a jar to ferment, it becomes Suancai. Put it under the sun for several days, it becomes Fucai. If it its put under the sun until the water is all gone, it becomes Meigancai.

Other pickles such as gourds, fishes, bean curd, pineapple sauce, and fermented beans are also commonly-seen Hakka dishes. They can be made into soups, stir-fried and placed in lunch boxes. In addition to being a seasoning, red yeast has become a popular health food able to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.