MMMMM----- Recipe via Meal-Master (tm) v8.03
       Title: Szechuan Style Cabbage Relish
  Categories: Relishes, Vegetables, Appetizers, Vegan, Chinese
       Yield: 1 servings
       1 md Green cabbage
       8 c  Water
       2 tb Szechuan peppercorns
       3 tb Salt
       2 tb -Strong spirits, or up to:
       3 tb Strong spirits
            -- (gin, tequilla, or
            -- kaoliang wine)
       1 c  Icicle radish, julienned
            -- (Optional)
     1/2 c  Carrot, julienned (optional)
       2 sl -Gingerroot, or up to:
       5 sl Gingerroot
       1 sm -Fresh Chile, or up to:
       3 sm Fresh Chiles (optional)
   This relish is certainly the most ubiquitous and popular in all China.
   There is even a special earthenware pickling jar for it.  Encircling
   the mouth of the jar is a shallow, water-filled trough, into which
   the lid fits like an upturned bowl, affording an airtigh seal.  Many
   a restaurant, no matter how small, keeps an ongoing batch in the
   works.  It is especially favored as an appetizer or as an
   accompaniment to such specialties as boiled pot-stickers or noodles.
   Szechuan is a Western province of China where red pepper frequently
   enlivens the food.  The traditional hot, spicy flavor of this relish
   varies with individual taste; use as much or as little gingerroot
   and/or hot peppers as you like to do the job.  Chiles can be chopped
   for a really hot effect; or for mere warmth, leave them whole with a
   slit down one side.  If you omit the chiles and gingerroot
   altogether, the resuld will be a pleasant pickle flavor with the
   natural sweetness of the crisp vegetables in the forefront.
   Green cabbage (not Chinese cabbage) is the principle ingredient, but
   other vegetables may be added for color (carrot) and variety (icicle
   radish). One batch requires several days' steeping.  The brine should
   be reused, for each time the vegetables contribute their flavor, and
   it gets better and better.
   Discard limp outer leaves of cabbage.  It is not necessary to separate
   leaves individually.  Break the head into fairly large yet bite-sized
   pieces.  Pat dry and let excess moisture evaporate.
   To make marinade: Brin to a boil the water, peppercorns, and salt.
   Strain out the peppercorns as you pour the liquid into a plastic
   container (with air-tight lid), ceramic bowl, or crock.  Let cool to
   room temperature.
   When the brine has cooled, add the alcohol, then cabbage and
   additional vegetables.  Weigh these down with a clean, heavy ceramic
   object (I simply use a plate) or stone so that they remain submerged
   in the brine.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap or air-tight lid.
   Store in the refrigerator for at least three days before uncovering.
   The first one or two batches may seem a bit salty and raw-tasting;
   after that a mellow, richly mature character develops.  It can store
   indefinitely if kept cold, airtight, and clean.  Always use clean,
   dry utensils when removing the vegetables.  You can remove as much as
   you want at a time and add new vegetables before the previous batch
   is used up.
   To replenish the brine after several batches, add a little alcohol
   and a salt solution (1/2 teaspoon salt boiled with 1/2 cup water).
   The original marinade can be reboiled with additional water and salt,
   but this results in some flavor loss.
   Variation: Shred the marinated cabbage or chop it coarsely, to yield
   about 5 cups, loosely packed.  Toss with 1 tablespoon soy sauce,
   2-1/2 teaspoons sugar, 1 tablespoon vinegar (cider or Chinese dark),
   and 1-1/2 teaspoons sesame oil.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.
   * Source: The Fragrant Vegetable, by Martin Stidham
   * Typos by: Karen Mintzias