Chinese pickled mustard green is quite similar to Vietnam dưa chua is a featured ingredients in many Chinese cuisine especially in Shangdong and Sichuan cuisine.
In Szechuan cuisine, pickled vegetables are hidden stars. They are not as famous as Kung pao chicken, twice cooked pork or Mapo tofu, but they are side ingredients for many yummy dishes like Szechuan boiled fish with pickled vegetables.
When I was still a child, my grandmother grew several different types of mustards including this mustard green (Chinese leaves mustard 芥菜) and mustard with large stem (大头菜). The former one was pickled directly and the later one was cut into shreds and sun dried before storing in the jars. Each time, when the fresh pickled vegetables were ready, the aroma filled the whole room and we were all expecting yummy dishes out of them.
This indeed is a very easy and simple but there are several tips I need to share. I am using a large glass jar and I pick around 4 trees each time.
- How to choose mustard green for pickling recipes
For pickling, I would recommend choose matured ones with some stem than younger ones because they usually have stronger taste and contains less water.
- How to prepare the container-jar
No matter you are using a glassy jar or Earthenware jar; soak it with boiling water (really hot waters) for around 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. It is really important to use oil-free and water free tool to take some of the pickled mustard greens out.
- How long can this pickled mustard green keep?
It can be kept for around 6 months, so you can make a large batch once. But all the mustard green should be soaked in the water, so you will need a large container.
Separate the mustard green or cut into large chunks and rinse in running water. Discard any dirt leaves.Lay the washed mustard greens in a clean gridiron or anything similar to dry the water. Turn over several times and make sure that there is no water on the surface. I would suggest air-drying for around 12 hours until the leaves begin to wither.
Prepare the glass gar: wash the gar with boiling water and then set aside to drain.
Transfer the withered mustard green in a large bowl. Rub the leaves with salt until they are totally withered and begin to loose water. Squeeze the water out. Then place the mustard green leaves in the glass jar. Press each layer down. Add around 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn seeds in the jar. Pour enough boiled water to soak all the leaves.
Pickled Mustard Green Recipe
- 1 kg mustard greens
- Boiled water as needed
- 2.5 tablespoons salt
- 1 large airtight glass jar
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn seeds , optional
- Separate the mustard green or cut into large chunks and rinse in running water. Discard any dirt leaves.
- Lay the washed mustard greens in a clean gridiron or anything similar to dry the water. Turn over several times and make sure that there is no water on the surface. I would suggest air-drying for around 12 hours until the leaves begins to wither.
- Prepare the glass gar: wash the gar with boiling water and then set aside to drain.
- Transfer the withered mustard green in a large bowl. Rub the leaves with salt until they are totally withered and begin to loose water. Transfer the mustard green leaves in the glass jar.
- Place 1 teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorn seeds and remaining salt in the jar. Pour water to soak all the leaves. Use a weigh to make sure the mustard greens are soaked in water.
- Cover the jar completely, move to shade place and wait for 7 to 15 days until the water becomes bright yellowish green (the time is based on room temperature, the warmer, the shorter).
- Taste it to see whether it is ready. The well- picked mustard green should be salty and slightly sour.
Hello Elaine, thank you for all your amazing recipes! I tried this one and I just wanted to check to see if my greens are safe to eat! After doing the process as described I opened the jar and it let out of a lot of gas. Also the water was fizzy with lots of tiny bubbles. Is this normal?
Your fermentation is not perfect but your greens are safe too. You need to remove the tiny bubbles on surface and wash your green before using.
Fizz and bubbles are completely normal for any fermentation processes because yeast consumes the natural sugar in the veggies (or anything you are fermenting) and releases CO2, hence the fizz and bubbles. What to pay attention really is mold -- if you see fuzzy hairy little things floating on the surface of the water, that means mold has developed and you need to get rid of the entire batch and restart. The mold is likely due to not having enough salt and/or the vessel not being clean enough since an adequate amount of salt suppresses harmful microorganisms from growing
I made this a few weeks ago, and it was delicious. We ate the entire jar in two days. Making more today!
Thanks for the feedback!! Lorielle!
I am wondering if I can use kale from my garden in this recipe instead of mustard greens?
I never tried with Kale. But it may work. You can try with a very small batch.
This recipe sounds so delicious! I've been wanting to explore the different options when it comes to pickling. I can't wait to try. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you so much for your lovely feedback. This is one of the best ingredients for soups in winter. Hppy cooking and enjoy!
have you ever done pickled napa cabbage like they do in the northeastern Chinese provinces? I've been searching for instructions on how to do that for quite a long time.
They use dry pickling method, needing dry air and lower temperature.
Hi Elaine. Thanks for the recipe. I have just harvested my pickled mustard green after 11 days. They taste great, salty and crunchy. They taste fresh unlike bought ones. I have a question. What can I do with the pickled water after I have removed the vegetables to another clean jar to stop further fermentation?
Yes, you need to store the water and then add some (usually 1L) to next jar.
I have seen recipes for zha cai that have some red chilli powder, star anise and other spices in addition to the Sichuan pepper you call for. Is this a regional difference or a different preparation?
They use the same mustard green with different treatment!
Hello Elaine 🙂
Could you do a recipe on how to make ya cai (zha cai)? I love dan dan noodles so I want to try to make it at home.
I have not tried to make a homemade ya cai at home, but I will try to find a chance to test it. Thanks for your suggestion,dear.
Hi, Elaine! I made a brine which consists of sugar. cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, and Sichuan peppercorns. Is it OK to use it here in this recipe? Thank you.
Yes, that brine sounds fine.
How big of a jar do I need for 1 kg of mustard greens? Thank you! Barbara
a 1.5L jar.
Hi Elaine, can I use this recipe to pickle 'Bald Head Mustard" greens and roots? Thanks much.
Yes. But it takes longer time.