My favorite Chinese restaurant for 30 years closed a few months ago. Back many years ago they had an appetizer that they served when you were seated that was excellent.
It was very simple, only fresh, crispy celery and cabbage. It usually came in a small bowl or in a small plate with a very small amount of clear liquid. Occasionally you might see a red pepper flake. It had a light, mostly savory flavor with just the slightest hint of sweetness and a little heat.
I'm usually pretty good at duplicating flavors but I have tried to nail this many times over the years but can't quite get there. There are no strong or identifying flavors I can grab onto. And it had no sweet, sour, or vinegar taste like pickled veggies have.
I asked many times for the recipe and each time I was told that it was not made at the restaurant but delivered by their distributor. I was never able to find out if it was a freshly prepared food or if it came in a jar or can.
Does anyone have any idea what this is called or how to make it? Or is it something that can be purchased? Any help or ideas would be very much appreciated.