Pickled mustard soup is a simple yet satisfying dish, perfect as an appetizer or side. This warm soup is perfect for cold weather. In my family, we loved making this even during the summer when it's hot outside and our appetite is low. The soup's savory and umami flavor, combined with the crunchy texture of the pickled mustard stems, always managed to stimulate our appetite.
PICKLED MUSTARD zhà cài 榨菜
There are hundreds, possibly thousands of different types of pickles in China. Some popular ingredients for pickling include radish, bamboo shoots, ginger, mushrooms, peppers, seaweed, and of course mustard leaves and stems. This recipe uses the crunchy stems.
Zhai cai comes in cubed and sliced forms. You can also find the whole stem in Chinese markets. Cut them into thin strips (in the 4th picture below) for this recipe.
Here are some of my favorite brands. Although I love spicy food in general, I recommend using non-spicy zha cai for this recipe.
Omit pork to make a vegetarian dish.
3 Tbsp pickled mustard stems
⅓ cup of pork strips
1 egg, beaten
1 scallions, finely chopped. Seperate the white part and the green part.
½ tsp minced ginger
Sesame oil (optional)
Shaoxing cooking wine
1. Combine pork with 1 tsp of cornstarch, ½ Tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine, 1 pinch of salt, and 2 dashes of white pepper powder. Mix well until the pork is coated evenly with the marinade. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Put ginger, scallion and pickled mustard aside.
2. Add 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil to a wok or a soup pot. When the oil is hot, stir-fry the pork until it's cooked.
3. Add ginger, pickled mustard stems, and the white part of the scallion to the same wok or pot. Stir-fry until everything is fragrant. Add 3 cups of hot water and bring the soup to a boil. Add ¼ tsp white pepper, and salt to taste ¼ to ⅓ tsp.
4. Pour the beaten egg very slowly into the soup. Drop the egg onto the bubbly part. Add ½ tsp sesame oil.
5. Garnish with the green part of the scallion. Serve hot.
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