Spring II: Teeth

Monday, March 02, 2009

The market project is proving a little more challenging than I thought. I figured I could pick something out, ask the vendor what it is and how to prepare it, then go home and try to find the characters and a simple recipe. However, in order to find out what things are I have to translate the vendors' Sichuanese into standard Chinese (change F to H, L to N, fourth tone to second tone, and sometimes that doesn't even work....) and vegetables are named very differently in different areas of China.

These little red bundles of sprouts were too beautiful to resist, though at Y5 for a tiny bundle they were pretty expensive. The vendor called them chun ya, or 'spring teeth' (Web searches revealed that 'tooth' is often mixed up with the word for any small, fresh shoot or baby leaf that emerges in spring) and told me to mix them with fried eggs. Then my North Chinese friend came over, gave me a completely different name, and said to chop them very fine and mix with cooked noodles. (Update: Correction - Chinese name is 椿芽, and never rely on market vendors to tell you accurate characters. Pronunciation is the same.)

Anyway, I sauteed them in a little butter and used them to make Eggs in the Middle: lentils on the bottom, then scrambled eggs, then the sprouts on top. They were good this way but also mild enough to eat raw, so I will probably use them uncooked next time.