Fermented Chinese mustard green (gai choy) is a very important ingredient for many tasty Chinese dishes including stir-fries, steaming, braised meat, soup and even as a side dish. Some popular Chinese cuisines are Teochew steamed fish, braised pork belly and fermented mustard green, fish head noodles soup, pork and fermented mustard green soup and stir-fry minced pork and fermented mustard green.
There are often confusions between fermented and pickled vegetables. Fermenting is the process of using filtered water, salt and spices, with no vinegar added. As a result, a derivative of lactic acid liquid is produced to help preserve the food and stimulate growth of natural probiotics, supporting a healthy digestive system. Alternatively, pickling is the way of preserving the vegetable in vinegar, spices and seasonings, enabling you to preserve the food but it does not provide the probiotic health benefits of fermentation.
You can purchase fermented mustard green or pickled mustard green (hum choy) from any Asian groceries stores but they are unhealthy as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), colouring, preservatives and sometimes soy sauce (with wheat) are normally added. In addition, store bought varieties of fermented mustard green and other vegetables are the result of high-level of heat and pressure which damages essential nutritional values and do not improve health in anyway. So, I prefer to make my own healthier version of gluten free fermented mustard green or other vegetables.
- 3 bunches of whole Chinese Mustard Green gai choy
- 3 long fresh red chillies
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt
- 1 airtight glass jar
For the Brine:
- 2 to 3 litres of filtered water or just enough to immerse all the vegetables
- 5 to 6 tablespoons salt
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- Wash the mustard green thoroughly, dry and cut into 2 to 3 inches length.
- Rub and mix 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt or as required into the mustard green, until they are withered and start losing water. Squeeze the remaining water out.
- Heat up 2 to 3 litres of filtered water in a pot and bring to a boil, turn off the heat. Briefly blanch all the mustard green in the water, in and out. Add the mustard green and chillies to the airtight glass jar.
- Add the remaining salt and turmeric powder to the boiled water. Let the brine cool and then add enough brine to just covering all the mustard green. Close the lid tightly.
- Leave in a cool shady place in the kitchen overnight. Refrigerate the next day. It should be ready in 3 to 5 days. It will taste salty and slightly sour when ready.