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root used in Asian dishes?


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I'd like to locate a root that I have not been able to source. its a root that sounds like Zassie (or something like that, but I cannot locate it on the internet anywhere) and is the size of a small fist. It's cut into small slivers 1-2 CM long about 3mm wide, and often marinated in either salt mostly or sesame sometimes before being utilized for cooking. I've had it with green beans often at good Chinese restaurants back in the states and would like to use it to include in my vegetable dishes over here.

Does anyone have any input into the name of the root and if it can be sourced over here?

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I am going way over the limb here on just a guess, which may be way off base. As I visit that farms I see a certain plant growing everywhere. They tell me it is called what sounds like "man supalon". I have further identified it as a "cassava" plant, which is a root used to make tapioca. Mainly a starch. I guess it could be sliced and fried. Hope this helps.

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A bit more information would help:

(1) What language is "Zassie" in?

(2) Is the root used in Thai cuisine?

(3) Is it starchy? Crunchy? Soft? Fibrous?

(4) Does it have a strong taste?

(5) What colour is the flesh? And the skin?

(6) Does it have "holes" in it? (If yes, then it's probably lotus root - my best guess from what the OP wrote.)

Apart from lotus root, I wondered if it might be burdock root (Japanese "Gobo"), though that's long and quite thin. Or daikon (a kind of radish), but that's too long. Or water chestnut (probably too small)?

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A bit more information would help:

(1) What language is "Zassie" in?

(2) Is the root used in Thai cuisine?

(3) Is it starchy? Crunchy? Soft? Fibrous?

(4) Does it have a strong taste?

(5) What colour is the flesh? And the skin?

(6) Does it have "holes" in it? (If yes, then it's probably lotus root - my best guess from what the OP wrote.)

Apart from lotus root, I wondered if it might be burdock root (Japanese "Gobo"), though that's long and quite thin. Or daikon (a kind of radish), but that's too long. Or water chestnut (probably too small)?

Thanks heaps for the responses, greatly appreciated.

Answers:

1. I was told Zassie is what it is referred to in Japan and China so it does not sound language specific. Kind of like Scotch Tape and Tissue. I was told its also referred to the same name in English, however when trying to search for it online using a variety of searches I came up with nothing. Bottom line I'm only using the spelling from my transliteration of what I've been told how the name was pronounced.

2. I'm unsure if it's used in Thai cuisine. Other than Chinese and Japanese cuisine I was told its also used in Korean so there's a good chance it could be found over here.

3. I have only seen the product in a cooked state. It is not fibrous or starchy but a bit crunchy.

4. I've only seen/tasted it in a cooked state and it's always been marinated in a salty broth or sometimes sesame broth so obviously takes on those tastes.

5. I have to guess that in its original state the root is a pale color. When cooked it comes out a pale to light brown or tan color.

One insight is that in Los Angeles, a very diverse mix culturally where there are loads of ethnic stores, it was sold packaged as a chopped root post marinating. In other words not fresh like I've seen Daikon, ginger etc.

Again thanks heaps for all the guesses and insight. Since I've only seen it post prepping, chopping, marinating and cooking I'm not sure if it has holes in it or not. However the texture seemed very similar to Lotus root. Only thing that makes me think it may not be Lotus root is that all the times I've seen or eaten Lotus root its sliced in a way to show off the holes characteristic in the Lotus root. In the dishes I've eaten with this particular root it was sliced into thin, small strips, not showing off the wonderful holes of the Lotus Root.

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I don't know about the "zassie" part of this, but I'm 90% certain that this isn't a root at all - it's bamboo shoots. It's available in the chilled section of pretty much all Thai supermarkets. Some versions are salted, and others are fresh.

It's very widely used in Chinese cuisine, and to a lesser extent in Thai cuisine. (For example, it's sometimes included in fish red curries here.)

Wikipedia article with pictures at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo_shoot

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I don't know about the "zassie" part of this, but I'm 90% certain that this isn't a root at all - it's bamboo shoots. It's available in the chilled section of pretty much all Thai supermarkets. Some versions are salted, and others are fresh.

It's very widely used in Chinese cuisine, and to a lesser extent in Thai cuisine. (For example, it's sometimes included in fish red curries here.)

Wikipedia article with pictures at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo_shoot

Thanks for the guess, but no it's not that easy. In the first post I described the root being the size of a small fist. Though the size of the slivers the root is cut into when being cooked are similar to bamboo shoot size.

Thank you though for the guess.

AyG you mentioned Burdock root and Daikon. The lady that gave me the name of the root is Japanese and cooks avidly so I'm sure if it was either of those roots she would have given me those names since they are bothed used extensively in Japanese cuisine.

Stoli I wonder about Cassava, as its the right color but sadly not at all starchy like the Cassava.

Here's a picture of a Chinese Green bean dish, that includes scallions, garlic and what looks like the root I'm talking about. Though the pieces I've eaten are similar to this in color but were sliced longer.

DSC00310.JPG

Any ideas?

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The one piece that looks like the root is at the 6 o'clock position a couple inches up from the bottom. the root is laying horizontally.

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The only thing I can think of is that it's taro... which used to be called 'dasheen' in the USA (presumably because it's often marinated in dashi in Japanese dishes). It's also called dasheen in the West Indies (and eddoe in India!). It's the root of the elephant ear plant, Colocasia... y'know, the ones with the huge leaves which can be used as emergency umbrellas! You've probably seen taro over here - it's usually purple - but I'm guessing that the end colour depends on the variety and cooking method.

In the image you posted, I'm only seeing beans, garlic, and shallots; do you know the name of the dish you've eaten with it in? Or even the region it comes from? Sorry I can't be more help; I'd love to know the answer to this as well because I've never heard of anything like 'zassie' (although dashi/dasheen sound similar)!

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Taro in Japanese is "satoimo". However, it's really not suitable for stir-frying because of its sliminess. In Japanese cuisine it's only ever used in soups and stews as far as I know. All a bit of a mystery.

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Taro in Japanese is "satoimo". However, it's really not suitable for stir-frying because of its sliminess. In Japanese cuisine it's only ever used in soups and stews as far as I know. All a bit of a mystery.

And we're still no closer to solving it!

BTW, it's stir fried in some Indian dishes, such as this...

http://www.manjulaskitchen.com/2010/04/12/stir-fry-arbi-taro-root/

(Manjula's recipes are great, BTW - I love her food!)

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A tip of the hat to you all for weighing in on the subject of "what is this root", :).

I just received the following statement regarding the root:

-----------------------------------

Zah-Sai is a pickled (salty) vegetable. Since it's picked, it has crunch/soft texture, which adds much needed flavor to otherwise boring sautéed vegetable dishes. Here is what I found in the internet search. It's pronounced more like, "Zah - Sigh" - the first line below is English translation, and the second line is how it's written in Japanese - katakana and kanji (chinese character)

(Pickled) Sichuan vegetable, zha cai

ザーサイ(搾菜)

--------------------------------

Hoping this new data gives someone some insight as I'm still at a loss.

I've usually had the root in Chinese bean dishes like in the picture above. I'll begin the drum roll in anticipation some new insight, haha.

Again thanks all for the efforts.

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Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zha_cai

To be honest, I rather doubt you'll readily find it in Bangkok. Korean kimchi, which is fairly similar, is probably a reasonable substitute, and is available in all the large supermarkets.

However, you may want to investigate (Thai) pickled mustard greens, also readily available, as an alternative.

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That's it, we have a winner!!! Zha Cai it is then. I'll see if I can unearth it at any of the Chinese restaurants or markets but I fear it won't be an easy find.

As the article states the Kimchi fermenting process is similar however Zha Cai tastes nothing like Kimchi. I'll give the pickled mustard greens a try and see if there are any similarities.

Again thank you for the assistance and if anyone has unearthed Zha Cai please post up.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Looking at the Wikipedia link, I am almost certain I have seen that in Chinatown. I'd print out the picture and head over to Yaowarat. Try Trok Itsaranuphap, I think that is a good bet.

Otherwise, Siam Paragon gourmet market has a selection of pickled vegetables, not sure if I have seen it there but worth a look if you are nearby.

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