[Gong Cai, Gongcai; Mountain Jellyfish, Sound Vegetable; L. sativa var asparagina alt var augustana, var angustata]
This is Stem Lettuce, shaved and dried. It is called "Mountain Jellyfish" because it is crunchy, like jellyfish, when rehydrated. "Sound Vegetable" comes from the same crunchiness. "Tribute Vegetable" is because someone once gave some to a Chinese emperor as tribute, and the emperor liked it. It is much liked in stir fries, once rehydrated.s
The photo specimen was purchased from a large Asian market in Los Angeles (Alhambra) for 2016 U.S. $0.50 per 6 ounce package (on sale - expect higher). Ingred: Tribute Vegetable, Salt, Sulfur Dioxide, FD&C Blue-1 and Yellow-5.
More on Lettuce & Chicory
The photo to the left shows Tribute Vegetable rehydrated, trimmed and cut, ready for recipes. Rehydrated and trimmed (the leaves are generally discarded) the weight will be about 2.8 times the dry weight.
Buying: This dried vegetable has started becoming more available in the Asian markets here in Los Angeles, packaged in 6 ounce bags. Some Chinatowns have dry markets where this vegetable can be found tied into bundles and unpackaged.
Storing: Dried in a sealed plastic pouch, it should last up to a year. Once rehydrated it can be refrigerated for up to a week.
Prep: Submerge in cool water. Soak a couple of hours, changing the water if it looks discolored. Trim away leaves (usually done for appearance) and cut into lengths appropriate to your recipe, usually 1-1/2 to 2 inches.
Cooking: The rehydrated vegetable is often served without cooking as a dressed salad. It is also often used in stir fries.