The secret of this delicious, easy to prepare and inexpensive dish lies in the use of preserved vegetables, which are typical of northern Chinese cuisine. In the north, people must preserve vegetables by salting or pickling, since the winters are long and cold. If you like your dish a bit spicier, like me, use Sichuan preserved vegetables.
For the garnish:
Reprinted from Complete Chinese Cookbook by Ken Hom. Copyright © Firefly Books 2011. Food photography by Jean Cazals copyright © Woodlands Books 2011. Reprinted with permission.
"Vegetables are perishable, so we don't have any indication of what they looked like 500 years ago," says James Nienhuis, a professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin.