China News Service, Wuhan, February 20th: Title: The purple air "winter" is coming, the auspicious arrival, the shadow of the tower and the sound of bells, the fragrance of vegetables and sprouts

  Author Wu Yili

  During winter and spring, Hongshan sprouts become the "darling" of Wuhan New Year Market. In terms of appearance, with purple stems, green leaves, and yellow flowers, it looks unattractive at first glance; in terms of status, the locals call it "the meat will not change" and it firmly occupies the "C position" on the New Year's dinner table.

  Hongshan cabbage sprouts are named after being planted in the Hongshan area of ​​Wuhan, and were called "purple cabbage" in ancient times. It has been recorded in the pre-Qin document "Xia Xiaozheng". The "Wuchang County Chronicle" of the Qing Dynasty praised its "flavor is particularly good, inferior to other places".

  Whether the Hongshan sprouts are authentic or not is up to Wuhan gourmets to judge for themselves: Baotong Zen Temple, located at the southern foot of Hongshan Mountain, has a history of more than 1,600 years and is known as the "No. 1 Buddhist Site in the Three Chus". The Hongshan Pagoda in the northeast was built in the Yuan Dynasty. There is a "ta shadow field" on the lower left. In the hearts of many Wuhan people, this vegetable field is the only place to listen to the bells of Baotong Temple and absorb the aura of the Hongshan Pagoda. The "grown up" cauliflower has the "purest bloodline".

  "Thanks to the microclimate that is sheltered from the wind and sunny, the Hongshan cabbage sprouts produced in the 'Jiuling Shiba'ao' area from Baotong Temple to Zhuodaoquan are of the best quality, while the cabbage sprouts in 'Tayingtian' grow in pure Buddhist land. , adding a touch of Zen." Xia Huiyong, president of the Wuhan Hongshan District Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Association, told reporters that Hongshan once planted a large area of ​​vegetable sprouts, but with the development of the city, only 80.13 acres of land in Shipailing, Wuhan is left as a The place of origin is protected and it is located within the second ring road where land is at a premium, so vegetable prices have also risen.

  Compared with ordinary vegetable sprouts, Hongshan vegetable sprouts are thicker and more tender, and are best enjoyed from November to February of the following year.

  Every morning, while the dew is still wet, vegetable farmers shuttle between the fields and ridges. The lush vegetable sprouts are as thick as a woman's wrist, and their leaves are so red that they turn purple. The vegetable farmer holds the pinching knife in his hand, aims at the base and pinches gently, the juice will overflow, wipe the dust, peel off the skin, and then eat it raw. It will be even sweeter if you experience cold wind, snow and frost.

In January 2024, sorters graded Hongshan cabbage sprouts according to their appearance and thickness. Photo by Zhang Chang

  Sorting workers classify Hongshan cabbage sprouts into special grade, first grade and second grade. If the "appearance" is not high, discard it; if the stems are hollow, discard them. The trunk is straight, the rhizome is strong, and a single root weighs more than 1 kilogram. It is a special grade. It sells for nearly 1,000 yuan (RMB, the same below) per kilogram, and the supply exceeds demand. Someone once bought 50 kilograms of top-quality Hongshan cabbage sprouts at an auction for a "sky-high price" of 100,000 yuan, which sparked heated discussions after media reports.

  However, in the market, the affordable Hongshan cabbage still accounts for the majority and is a popular local home-cooked dish. According to Meituan platform data, sales of Hongshan cabbage in Wuhan have increased by 30% year-on-year since New Year’s Day this year.

  "Stir-fried bacon with Hongshan cabbage sprouts is the local favorite way to eat it." Chu cuisine chef Zhang Degang said, break the cabbage sprouts into little finger lengths with your hands, remove the outer skin and leave the mosaics and leaves, stir-fry the bacon over low heat to remove the meat oil, and add Stir-fry in the pot until the stems turn from green to purple, add a little salt and serve. The stems are crisp, the flowers and leaves are fresh, and the waxy flavor is rich, which will whet your appetite.

  The colors of red bacon and seaweed sprouts complement each other, echoing the meaning of "purple air coming from the east". It is said that when the Northern Song Dynasty writer Su Dongpo was working in Huangzhou, he came here three times in order to eat Hongshan sprouts, and then he got what he wanted.

  In 2019, Wuhan Hongshan Caiyang Park was completed and opened. It is the only local park named after a vegetable. Recently, an internet celebrity restaurant has launched "Hongshan Cabbage Sashimi", in which the roots are sliced ​​into thin slices, poured with sauce and ready to eat, which shows Wuhan people's love for Cabbage.

  "Thirty to forty percent of our customers are overseas travelers who come here every year to buy authentic Hongshan sprouts." Xia Huiyong said that some overseas Wuhan people come to him specifically to purchase seeds and bring them to Canada and Australia for planting. However, even if transplanted to other places, even if it takes root and sprouts, the color and taste will not be as good as those in the place of origin. This is mainly to temporarily relieve the wanderer's thoughts. (over)