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Chinese pickles or Chinese preserved vegetables consists of various vegetables or fruits, which have been fermented by pickling with salt and brine (鹹菜) or marinated in mixtures based on soy sauce or savory bean pastes (醬菜). The former is usually done using vegetables from Chinese mustard or Chinese cabbage, while the latter marinated group is made using a wide variety of vegetables, ranging from mustards and cucumbers to winter melon and radishes.
Vegetables and plums are salted and allowed to ferment with the help of Lactic acid bacteria. Depending on the desired product, the vegetable may also be fermented with Chinese wine and spices. Some types of these preserved vegetables are produced through being repeatedly dried after the fermentation.
- Meigan cai (梅菜)
- Suan cai (酸菜)
- la bai cai
- Tianjin preserved vegetable (冬菜)
- Prunus mume (酸梅)
- Zha cai (榨菜)
- Gong cai (貢菜)
Vegetables are usually marinated in a soy sauce mixture with sugar, vinegar, salt, and additional spices. The vegetable are lightly boiled in the soy mixture before being left to cool and absorb the marinade:
Possible health hazards of pickled vegetables
The World Health Organization has listed pickled vegetables as a possible carcinogen, and the British Journal of Cancer released an online 2009 meta-analysis of research on pickles as increasing the risks of esophageal cancer. The report cites a potential two-fold increased risk of oesophageal cancer associated with Asian pickled vegetable consumption. Results from the research are described as having "high heterogeneity" and the study said that further well-designed prospective studies were warranted. However, their results stated "The majority of subgroup analyses showed a statistically significant association between consuming pickled vegetables and Oesophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma".
The 2009 meta-analysis reported heavy infestation of pickled vegetables with fungi. Some common fungi can facilitate the formation of N-nitroso compounds, which are strong oesophageal carcinogens in several animal models. Roussin red methyl ester, a non-alkylating nitroso compound with tumour-promoting effect in vitro, was identified in pickles from Linxian in much higher concentrations than in samples from low-incidence areas. Fumonisin mycotoxins have been shown to cause liver and kidney tumours in rodents.
- Islami, F (2009). "Pickled vegetables and the risk of oesophageal cancer: a meta-analysis". British Journal of Cancer 101: 1641–1647. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6605372. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
- Liu, J. G.; Li, M. H. (1989). "Roussin red methyl ester, a tumor promoter isolated from pickled vegetables". Carcinogenesis 10 (3): 617–620. doi:10.1093/carcin/10.3.617. PMID 2494003.
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