Mustasa Salad with Bagoong & Kalamansi Dressing

Don’t skip this entry because the salad sounds a bit bizarre, it actually tastes fantastic! mus1Mustasa (Mustard Greens) with a bagoong and kalamansi dressing is not something you would eat as a starter or appetizer. Instead, it is a perfect match for a deep fried fish such as hito or catfish or tilapia. Several weeks ago I ate at the Milky Way Café in Makati and I tried their mustasa salad and have been trying to recreate it at home. On the second try, I seem to have the essence of it though I suspect Milky Way must do something a little different on the dressing.

The key to success is starting with incredibly fresh, healthy mustasa. mus2The leaves have to be crisp, taught and alive. The mustasa photographed here was extremely fresh and the leaves weren’t riddled with bug bites. Mustasa or mustard cabbage (Brassica juncea) is a large family that includes many different types of related leafy greens. The ones in this photograph are also known as Gai Choy Sum and are characterized by skinnier, crunchy stems and slightly serrated leaves. They are a bright green and their flavor is best described as spicy and “bracing”… On their own they are a tough nibble. Most recipes call for cooking or pickling mustard greens. But if you like strong flavors and fat/spice pairings, try this recipe using uncooked greens one of these days.

Buy the best mustasa you can find, wash carefully and wrap in paper towels mus3and store in the fridge for 2-3 hours to freshen up the leaves further. Chop them about 1/3 of an inch wide and put in a salad bowl. Make the dressing by squeezing 10-15 kalamansi and straining out the seeds, add a big dollop of bagoong alamang (shrimp paste), 1-2 siling labuyo (birds eye chillis), a few dashes of patis (fish sauce) and some ground black pepper. Mix this all up and dress the mustasa leaves just before serving. It goes best with deep fried fish. It would probably go well with seriously fat pork as well. I had it most recently with fried tilapia and it tasted really good!


15 Responses

  1. This does sound different. I may try it at Milky Way first to get a sense of the taste before making it on my own.
    Mustasa has always been a leafy green for sinigang na miso in my mind. What other recipes is it good in?

  2. i’ve always remembered a dish of pickled mustasa mixed into scrambled eggs, sounds bizarre i know…but good

  3. since we are in this “mustasa” topic, i would suggest you try what we capampangans call “burong mustasa” which is essentially salt-cured mustard greens, fermented for a week.

    this goes well as a side dish to practically any fried or grilled dish.

  4. Butch I have heard of burong mustasa but I have never tried it. Do people sell it? Or is it only made at home?

  5. “burong mustasa” — my mother use this in “sinigang sa miso’t mustasa”, ‘coz the fresh one tends to be bitter in ‘sinigang’. this ‘pickled mustard leaves’ are readily available in wet market. i haven’t tried fresh mustard leaves in a salad with ‘bagoong’ and really curious to know how it taste (is it not bitter?). MM, you’ve given me a new foodie to try on, great!

  6. It’s sold in public markets in Pampanga but I have not seen it in Manila. My grandmother used to make it and I had to call my mother to ask her how it was done. Break the “heads” of mustasa, wash to remove the dirt in between stalks and stems, hang the leaves to dry. Once dried, collect the leaves in a bowl, sprinkle a reasonable amount rock salt, then mash the mustasa by hand, breaking the “stems and stalks”. When everything is mashed, roll each of the leaves separately and arrange them in a bottle. Pour some of the “mashed mustasa juice” in the bottle and add a slice of ginger. Store in the ref and it should be good to eat after 48 hours.

  7. Thanks for that recipe Butch! Ann, the salad is best described as “bracing” and highly flavorful. The slightly bitter, sharp peppery mustasa is strongly supported by the wickedly sour and salty dressing.

  8. Delicious! Now, how can I sleep thinking about this? But, truth is, it’s very hard to get mustasa here without the bug bites so I will have to wait till I get to Manila to buy mustasa the way you specified here.

  9. Fresh mustasa leaves with burong kanin (fermented rice with fish/shrimp) as a side dish to grilled hito. You take the mustasa leaves and use it to scoop up the buro. Like Marketman says, the bitter and sharp mustasa goes well with something sour and salty which in this case is the buro.

  10. I tried the fresh mustasa leaves “sawsawan” with my fried talakitok and it was superb. Thank you marketman, tho at first i thought it will be too bitter pero hindi naman pala.

  11. we also make burong mustasa but i remember them to be smaller and the stems thinner. its almost like arugula, my mom would blanch it and then put it in a jar with vinegar and salt . very good with sinaing na tulingan, tagalog na sibuyas (newly harvested) and bagoong balayan. haay sarap but i also use the same mustasa in your picture when i feel like eating it here in l.a.

  12. hey! u should try the mustasa wasabi salad at Grilla has a real bite! m not sure if they still have it, havnt gone there in ages…hmmmm

  13. i want to know how to make burong mustasa.can you please send me the recipe..we have too much mustasa here and i dont know what to do.please advice



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