Dua Cai – Pickled Mustard Greens

Dua Cai 6

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is for a side dish that is the perfect accompaniment to last week’s Thit Kho Trung –  Braised Pork & Egg.  Dua Cai, or Pickled Mustard Greens, are crunchy, salty and downright delightful.  Mom often has Dua Cai on hand for a quick bite, even for something as simple as an easy snack of rice, soy sauce, and Dua Cai.

This is also known as Dua Cai Chua, but we grew up referring to this side dish as just plain “Dua Cai.”  Maybe we just used an abbreviated term so we could get to eating them faster!

The great news about Dua Cai is that it’s so easy to make!  To-go soup containers are a great way to store Dua Cai while it pickles, or used glass jars also work well – just rinse them in a vinegar-water mix to get rid of any prior food scents first.  Dua Cai keeps well in the refrigerator and is also great for sharing with friends, so I’ve kept the recipe below at the same large amount that Mom makes.  Feel free to decrease the size, if desired.

Dua Cai – Pickled Mustard Greens

INGREDIENTS – makes 20 individual side servings:

  • 3-4 heads (about 8 C.) of mustard greens, or Cai Lam Dua
  • 3 bunches of green onions
  • 1/2 gallon of boiled, hot water
  • 1/4 C. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 C. white vinegar

—–

STEP 1:  PREPARE THE MUSTARD GREENS & GREEN ONIONS

  1. The night before preparing Dua Cai, let the mustard green bunches sit out at room temperature to gently wilt.

    Mustard greens left out overnight will wilt some, as intended, for Dua Cai.
    Mustard greens left out overnight will wilt some, as intended, for Dua Cai.
  2. The next day, trim the mustard greens into bite-sized, 1″ pieces.
  3. Trim the green onions into large, 2″ pieces.
  4. Wash & drain the mustard greens and green onions.

    Trimmed and washed mustard greens and green onions, for Dua Cai.
    Trimmed and washed mustard greens and green onions, for Dua Cai.

—–

STEP 2:  PICKLE THE MUSTARD GREENS

  1. Select your pickling container(s) of choice, whether an extra large glass jar, or several smaller containers.
  2. Fill the container(s) halfway with 1/2 a gallon of boiled, hot water.
  3. Add to the container(s) a TOTAL of 1/4 C. salt, 3 Tbsp. sugar, and 1/4 C. white vinegar.  Be careful to distribute divisions of these ingredients evenly if using several smaller containers.
  4. Add the mustard greens and green onions to the container(s).  Stuff the container(s) tightly, filling them to about 2-3″ from the top.  The greens will shrink as they pickle.  If using an extra large glass jar, place a plastic lid onto the mustard greens (in the brine) to press them down and keep them submerged in the pickling brine.  Close the container(s) and place on a plate to catch any brine which may overflow over the next few days.
  5. Store Dua Cai at room temperature for 3-4 days, until the greens all reach a yellow-green hue.  Once you’ve reached optimal flavor and color, carefully open the container to pour out a bit of excess brine.  Store Dua Cai in the refrigerator to stop the pickling process.  Serve Dua Cai as a crunchy, salty side to any Vietnamese dish.

Here is a photo timeline of Dua Cai as it pickles over four days:

Dua Cai on Day 1: greens have just been added to the brine and are bright in color.
Dua Cai on Day 1:
Greens have just been added to the brine and are bright in color.
Dua Cai on Day 2: the green color is duller today.
Dua Cai on Day 2:
The green color is duller today.
Dua Cai on Day 3: many of the greens are reaching the optimal yellow-green hue, but there are still some greener pieces.
Dua Cai on Day 3:
Many of the greens are reaching the optimal yellow-green hue, but there are still some greener pieces.
Dua Cai on Day 4: brining is complete.  All of the greens have reached the correct hue.
Dua Cai on Day 4:
Brining is complete. All of the greens have reached the correct hue.

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to Mom! 

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