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Friday, December 12, 2014

Dưa Cải Chua (Pickled Mustard Greens)

What's a woman to do on a rainy day especially with the forecast of a storm looming on the horizon? How about cozying up with a nice hot cup of matcha green tea on her couch and blogging away about mustard greens? Doesn't that sound sour and delicious all at once?

Dưa Cải Chua (pickled mustard greens) is one of the recipes that I've been blogging on and off for some time but remains unfinished due to the busy holidays season. Thanks to inclement weather, it shall be done today.

This Dưa Cải Chua is simpler to prepare than you may imagine. It's a Vietnamese staple and should have in your lovely kitchen; It serves as a great to contrasting taste to many salty home-cooked dishes such as braised catfish in claypot (cá kho tộ), caramelized pork and hard boiled egg (thịt kho trứng), caramelized pork belly with lemongrass and shrimp paste sauce (thịt kho ruốc sả) or fried fish (cá chiên) - you can finish off the list. The irresistibly crunchy and tart  dưa cải chua is perfect with almost any rich and savory dishes. On a cold day like today, instead of eating it straight from the jar, I like to saute it with diced garlic for a nice warm dish; make soup or curry out of it, or braise beef shank with it. One of my favorite dưa cải chua dishes is sauteing it with diced garlic and scrambled egg.

The main ingredients to ferment the mustard greens are just salt, sugar and the omnipotent sunlight. It is simple and allows the natural flavor and color of the greens to come through. It's effectively preserved the greens as well. The preparation of dưa cải chua takes no more than twenty minutes but the process of fermentation takes about a week before it's ready to serve. This fermentation process can be sped up by sun drying.  Dưa cải chua can be kept in the fridge for a few months.  
RECIPE: Dưa Cải Chua
Printable Recipe


2 bunch Mustard Greens, about 4 pounds
1 medium Onion
4-6 cloves of Garlic
1 bunch of Spring Onion, optional
12 cups Water 
3 tablespoons Salt 
3 tablespoon Sugar 

Clean and dry jars or glass bowls and lids thoroughly. Set aside.
Preparing Water Mixture

Bring water to a boil. Add sugar and salt. Stir to dissolve. Let it cool. It's okay if the water is still a little bit warm.
Preparing Mustard Greens

Cut off ends of the mustard greens and discard. Trim the parts that are bruised, and yellow. Wash the greens with cold water, then shake off the excess water.  Cut greens into sections about 1 inch long.  

Shake off the excess water one more time.  I like to place the bottom of the coriander on top of the other one and shake off the the excess water.  Set aside.

Preparing Onion and Garlic

Slice onion and garlic. Set aside. If used green onion, cut it into 2 inches segments. Set aside.

Fermenting Mustard Greens

Pack greens, garlic, onion, or spring onions into the jar. Pour the liquid into the jar covering the greens.

Press the greens down with the back of the soup spoon to submerge them in the liquid. It's okay if the liquid doesn't cover the greens completely right away since the greens will continue to expel liquid as they ferment. But make sure the liquid covers the greens in the same day. If necessary, make more liquid to fully cover the greens.

Secure the mouth of the jar with a tight lid. Place the jar in a warm spot in your kitchen and allow to ferment for 4-6 days. The warmer the room is, the quicker it will ferment.  You can speed up the fermentation process by leaving the jar in the sun.

As the greens start to ferment, they will turn a beautiful shade of yellowish green. Properly fermented greens should smell like pickles. They are crunchy and have a sour, salty, and spicy taste.

You can keep it refrigerated for at least a few months. Drain the greens well before serving.

Here's to your sour and salty cravings!


  1. Thank you for this recipe! My mom makes this and it brings back childhood memories of our family dinners.

  2. Do u add vinegar to it to make it sour

    1. You don't need to add vinegar to make it sour. The greens will sour as they start to ferment.