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Pickled mustard is as ubiquitous in East and Southeast Asia as dill pickles are in Europe. Pickled mustard is a treasured fermented food that’s found in countless side and main dishes, and is sold throughout Asian markets.
In Cambodia, pickled mustard greens are sold in bulk out of large jars at stunningly low prices. However, Asian grocery stores in North America charge a premium for pickled mustard, which is a shame since raw mustard greens (also known as “gai choy”) are inexpensive in the US and Canada. Luckily, you don’t need to splurge on pickled mustard — it’s simple enough to make at home, much in the same manner you make other pickled greens and veggies.
There are multiple ways of fermenting mustard greens. But whether you’re looking for the Chinese pickled mustard green version or its Thai counterpart, the basic preparation steps are the same. In this recipe, we’ll share the Cambodian fermentation method that I learned back in Kampot. The recipe in our article is quick and simple, requires few ingredients, little equipment, and no advanced fermentation skills to make. Our post below will also show you ways to enjoy your homemade pickled mustard as both a side and main dish, walk you through its nutrition facts, and explain how to store your pickled mustard once it’s fermented.
Pickled Mustard [Cambodian Fermentation Recipe]
- Glass jar or any other glass container fitting roughly 6 quarts
- Large pot 4-6 quarts
- Large bowl
- 2 plants Mustard greens roughly 1.5 pounds
- 6 quarts Water
- 2.5 tbsp Salt this is enough salt for us; you can taste the finished product and add more next time if you like
- ½ tbsp Sugar
- ½ tbsp MSG
- ½ Cup White rice
- Set 3 quarts of fresh water to boil in a large pot over medium high heat.
- Wash the mustard greens and set aside in a bowl.
- Use tongues to immerse the mustard greens in the boiling water for a minute, then drain the mustard in a colander and discard the water.
- Place the mustard greens into the pickling jar once it's cooled.
- Boil 3 more quarts of cold water in the same pot to make the pickling liquid.
- Add rice, salt, sugar, and MSG to the water.
- Allow the pickling liquid to cool until it reaches room temperature.
- Add the rice water to the jar with the mustard, making sure you add enough brine to cover the mustard before discarding excess water.
- Cover the jar with a lid and store in a dark place for 4 days. The mustard should darken by this time, which means that the pickling process has taken place.
- Refrigerate and consume within 2 months after the mustard is pickled.
What is pickled mustard?
Pickled mustard is a mustard plant that’s been fermented in brine. The mustard greens are typically kept in large chunks for the fermentation process, which takes several days after immersion into the brine. Once fermentation is complete, the pickled mustard can be consumed on its own or used in various other side and main dish recipes.
How do I eat pickled mustard?
You can eat pickled mustard as a side dish or use it as an ingredient in other recipes.
A typical Cambodian pickled mustard side dish is simple to make and requires few ingredients — pickled mustard chopped into small pieces, a pinch of sugar and MSG, and thin slices of chili peppers. These ingredients balance out the tartness and give the side a spicy kick — a perfect mix of flavors with bland foods, such as rice porridge or sticky rice.
But pickled mustard greens are also a unique ingredient in several main dishes. One of the simplest, fastest dishes we make with pickled mustard is the scrambled egg stir fry. All you do is cut the pickled green leaves into smaller pieces and fry with chicken or duck eggs, garlic, sugar, MSG, and a bit of fish sauce (or soy sauce if you prefer) — it takes a whole 15 minutes and tastes out of this world. And if you’re willing to invest more time and get the most out of pickled mustard’s unique flavor, try adding it to a pork bone soup — you’ll find that there’s an otherworldly goodness to the resulting sour pork bone broth.
Are pickled mustard greens healthy?
Pickled mustard greens are healthy — if you make them yourself. Homemade pickled mustard has few ingredients — mustard greens, salt, rice water, and negligible amounts of sugar and MSG. The health benefits of the mustard plant — which include large amounts of Vitamins A, C, K, and various antioxidants — outweigh the risks posed by the small amounts of seasonings used in preparation. On the other hand, store-bought pickled mustard is typically laden with coloring and preservatives, some of which can be carcinogenic.
What does preserved mustard taste like?
Pickled mustard tastes similar to pickled cucumbers. However, there are some notable differences. Firstly, pickled mustard is quite leafy, and the soft (yet crunchy) texture is quite unique among pickled greens and vegetables. Secondly, pickled mustard greens are still mustard, so you get the distinct bite you taste when eating mustard seeds along with acidity.
How long does pickled mustard last?
Pickled mustard will last around 6 months after you make it, as long as you refrigerate it. Store-bought pickled mustard can last far longer, but you’ll be ingesting the various (possibly carcinogenic) preservatives that give it such an excessively long shelf life. And honestly, there’s no reason for pickled mustard to last two years — our 3-liter batches barely make it longer than a week after we make them.
What did you think about our pickled mustard?
Have you made pickled mustard following our recipe? If so, what did you think? If not, have you made it any other way? Please share your thoughts and experiences with our readers by leaving a comment below.