07 Nov2009


I have always thought of these as “Chinese” mustard greens, but it seems it is popular in several parts of the world and figures as an ingredient several different cuisines around the world. The leaves and seeds are both edible with the latter being made into mustard oil or just used as a spice for various dishes. While we have often enjoyed this vegetable in Chinese restaurants, as pickles, parts of mixed vegetable dishes or with some meats, I have never actually cooked this variety in our home kitchen. I have used a relative, mustasa, or mustard greens in various soups and this great salad with a bagoong kalamansi dressing. Gai Choy or Brassica juncea has a voluptuous curving leaves with rather sturdy stems. It has a strong, somewhat bitter flavor that some might describe as having horseradish notes. I have seen them relatively small as in the one in these photos, or in nearly giant heads.


On closer inspection, the lush heads of mustard cabbage are spectacular plant specimens, and would make terrific table centerpieces for a Chinese themed meal. I think I was drawn to the bitter leafy greens because of all the roasted pork I have been consuming recently, and wanted to get something that might counteract all the fat in my diet. Mustard cabbage must be highly nutritious or at least I hope it is! Next up, a simple recipe for braised gai choy or mustard cabbage.

Sources: Sara Deseran’s book “asian vegetables” and Jacki Passmore’s “The Encyclopedia of Asian Food and Cooking”.



  1. denise says:

    how about quick-steaming the leaves and then making it as the wrap for some of the zubuchon from last post? (it’s from a recipe i read from an atkins diet book from the 80’s–i didn’t do the diet, i just read the no-carb recipes hehe)

    Nov 7, 2009 | 9:08 pm


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  3. Vicky Go says:

    I love all the Chinese “choys” – especially the “baby” varieties. I simply rinse them clean, trim off tough lower portion of stems; halve the “baby” bunches & steam/stir fry in the water that clings to the veggies & a bit of olive oil, until just wilted. Sprinkle w freshly ground pepper & fresh minced garlic (or dry powdered in a pinch) & add a dollop of oyster sauce. Stir quickly to mix & serve. Sometimes, if I remember I toss a tsp or so of sesame oil before serving.

    Nov 7, 2009 | 9:16 pm

  4. abby says:

    My parent’s use this veggie when cooking nilagang oxtails here in the US.

    Nov 7, 2009 | 11:16 pm

  5. Connie C says:

    Way to go, Vicky Go. I do the same thing or flavor it with some chicken bouillon or a few slices of ginger when sauteeing. A quick stir fry veggie accompaniment with a fish or chicken dish.

    Nov 7, 2009 | 11:27 pm

  6. cherryo, yvr says:

    Nov 8, 2009 | 7:59 am

  7. cherryo, yvr says:

    PS Siguro masarap din if sauteed with BettyQ’s famous XO sauce…

    Nov 8, 2009 | 8:34 am

  8. presentacion says:

    hi MM,

    love these Chinese mustard greens, they are nice on stir-fries, usually used are the fat stems only, with shrimps or scallops, flavored with oyster sauce, like in lohan chay

    Nov 8, 2009 | 1:36 pm

  9. millet says:

    i love this in sinigang sa miso, and a friend always eats lechon slices wrapped in fresh mustasa leaves. i also love “burong mustasa:, the preserved, slightly fermented mustard leaves. my dad used to make them by washing them thouroughly and hanging out in the sun (on the clothesline!) for a day, just enough to wilt them. then he’d put them in jars with some rice washing (hugas-bigas). after a few days, the leaves would be deliciously salty-tangy, while the stems remained crunchy. we loved chopping them up and sauteeing them with garlic, onions, tomatoes and beaten eggs, or as a flavorful relish (alongside fried fish) with sliced tomatoes and onions.

    Nov 8, 2009 | 1:55 pm

  10. cumin says:

    I don’t think I know gai choy. And now I want to look for it because MM, your pictures are simply gorgeous! Have never seen vegetables look so radiant, as in the first photo, or so sensual, as in the second. Ewan, my mind is funny today. :-)

    Nov 8, 2009 | 4:00 pm

  11. Vicky Go says:

    @millet: I’ve seen it written often in posts here, but I’ve never cooked it. What is & how do you cook “sinigang sa miso”? What is the “miso” ingredient? Is it available in bottles or jars? Is it Chinese, Japanese or Filipino?

    @cherryo, yvr: thanks for the Pei Mei cookbook recipe links – her veggies in scallop sauce does sound like it could be cooked using Betty Q’s XO sauce as a ‘short cut’

    Nov 9, 2009 | 1:13 am

  12. cherryo, yvr says:

    Happy Cooking Vicki! I haven’t cooked a Pei Mei recipe na hindi patok.

    Nov 9, 2009 | 1:14 am

  13. atbnorge says:

    @Millet, that’s just about the dream mustasa recipe that I miss. I love eating burong mustasa with itlog na maalat—samahan pa ng talakitok. Sigh—it is quarter to midnight here. Ayaw kong patulan ‘yung leftover pizza sa fridge. It won’t suffice!

    Nov 9, 2009 | 6:45 am

  14. Mini says:

    Hi Marketman, i love the first photo, can I save a copy of it? I will use it as a desktop background, if it is ok with you.

    Nov 9, 2009 | 4:05 pm

  15. Marketman says:

    Mini, yes you may save a copy of it for private use. Thanks. MM

    Nov 9, 2009 | 4:32 pm


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