In my last trip to visit my family in Honolulu, I went to lunch with my Mom and sister in Chinatown and they ordered this dish that I never had growing up – shredded pork and pickled vegetables in rice noodles.

Now, the combination of pork and pickled vegetables is classic in Chinese cooking. There’s a popular Northern Chinese soup noodle dish that features these two ingredients, and my family would order pork and pickled vegetables as a stir-fry entree at Chinese restaurants. But this dish is a stir-fried rice noodles dish, similar to chow mein.

I loved the combination of the pickled vegetables with the thin vermicelli-style rice noodles, which I always find light to eat. But when visiting Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area, I couldn’t find this dish on the menu.

Making it at home
Since I couldn’t find this dish at restaurants, I decided to make it at home. But first I needed the pickled vegetables.

While you can buy packaged pickled vegetables (usually mustard greens) in vacuum packs from Thailand, they never taste as good as the fresh ones my Dad made when I was a kid. I recall how the cooked vinegar would smell throughout the kitchen, but we didn’t care because we knew in a few hours we could sneak a crunchy piece of pickled greens from the jar in the refrigerator.

So I waited until I could find mustard greens in the market to pickle my own. Finally, I’m starting to see them in Chinatown (apparently it’s a winter green here), so I pickled some recently and now I have the star ingredient for my rice noodle dish.

Pickled mustard greens in the jars in my refrigerator

Pickled mustard greens in the jars in my refrigerator

Pickled Mustard Green Recipe

Fresh mustard greens (left whole)
Apple cider vinegar
Szechuan peppercorns (optional)
Kosher salt

Wash your mustard green to remove any dirt, especially hidden within the leaves near the base. Slice the mustard green in half right down the middle, then rub kosher salt all over (about a tablespoon). Let sit in colander for two hours, then rinse with water and set aside.

In a saucepan, cook the sugar, cider vinegar and water together until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool. The portions of the ingredients depend on the size of your container that will hold the mustard green, but the ratio should be 1:1:1. That means if you need six cups of liquid to fill your container, then you would cook 2 cups of sugar with 2 cups of vinegar and 2 cups of water.

Place your mustard green into a glass container (you may need to squeeze it into the jar) and then pour the cooled liquid to cover the greens but leaving some air at the top. Add a few Szechuan peppercorns into the jar. Cover securely and place in refrigerator and let pickle for about two to three days before use.

Pickled mustard greens are also great to eat as is for their crunch

Pickled mustard greens are also great to eat as is for their crunch

Creating the rice noodle dish
To recreate the stir-fried rice noodle dish, I ended up using ground pork instead of shredded pork mostly because I can be lazy at home. I didn’t want to get a pork loin and chop away to get small pork shreds. So I used ground pork instead, but I admit it does make it harder to eat noodles with ground pork, which generally wants to stick to a sauce but there’s very little sauce in this dish because it’s a stir-fry. Still, I enjoyed the flavors that blended on the plate, and while not exactly the same as the restaurant, it was pretty good.

Note: This really is the type of dish to eat right away because of the crunch of the pickled vegetables and bean sprouts. It doesn’t really work that great as leftovers because reheating it softens the pickled vegetables. So I say make enough to eat in one sitting! Enjoy!

The finished dish. You should eat it right away and don't leave leftovers.

The finished dish. You should eat it right away and don’t leave leftovers.

Pork and Pickled Vegetables Fried Rice Noodles Recipe

Makes 3 to 4 servings

6 oz. ground pork
8-10 oz. rice noodles*
1/2 t ground white pepper
1 T sesame oil
1 T soy sauce
1 T xiao hsing wine
1 t cornstarch
1 t fresh ginger, julienned into toothpick pieces
1 whole pickled mustard green (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups, chopped)
8 oz. bean sprouts (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
1-2 T vegetable or Canola oil
2-3 T oyster sauce

*Use as much rice noodles that you feel would feed three people for this recipe. I can’t give a precise measurement because rice noodles come dried in packs, and I used two squares that were in my package. But the squares differ from pack to pack.

Soak your rice noodles in water until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside in colander. Tip: Using kitchen scissors, cut the noodles once or twice so they’re not as long when you’re cooking with it.

In a small bowl, combine pork with white pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, xiao hsing wine, cornstarch and fresh ginger. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

Frying up the ground pork with pickled vegetables

Frying up the ground pork with pickled vegetables

In a wok or large skillet, warm oil over high heat and then add the ground pork and brown until nearly cooked. Then add pickled vegetables and blend well, and immediately add the rice noodles. Quickly mix the rice noodles with the ground pork and pickled vegetables (about 1 minute) and then add bean sprouts, again blending well. (Tip: as you blend, pull the noodles up to loosen.) Remove wok from heat and then drizzle with oyster sauce and mix into your dish to season. Taste and add more if needed. (Remember, the rice noodles are generally bland, so you may end up using a lot of oyster sauce.)

Plate and serve immediately.

9 Responses to Cooking with Pickled Mustard Greens

  1. Amy Tong says:

    This is one of my favorite thing to cook at home. 🙂 Yeah, you might not find this on many Chinese restaurants’ menus as this is more of a Cantonese twisted homemade dish. If you go to a Hong Kong style cafe, you’ll have a better chance seeing it on the menu. But you made it beautifully at home. I guess you don’t need to find a restaurant that has it anymore. hehe….I love the picture showing your wok with the steam! I can almost smell the wonderful aromas from here.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Oooh, you’re right. I should start checking out the menus at cha chang tengs (the HK style cafes). My wok is pretty decent but I can’t get super high heat since it’s electric and not gas. So getting them at a restaurant will be nice (or else I have to fly home to Hawaii). But this recipe is a good back up. 😉

  2. hungry dog says:

    I’ve never had this dish and I feel I have been missing out! It sounds delicious. Thanks for posting.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Don’t feel so bad. Like I said, I only discovered it two years ago. Funny thing is, now my sister loves to order it every time we go to lunch so we eat it often when I’m in Honolulu. 🙂

  3. Carolyn Jung says:

    My Mom used to pickle big jars of mustard greens. We’d actually put it in green salads. Really perked up the greens and made the salad memorable.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Hmmn, I’ve never seen pickled greens use that way in salads, but now I can imagine little bits of it chopped up and mixed in a warm kale salad! Yum!

  4. Row says:

    The dude often makes pickled mustard greens with pork, but we’ve never tried it with noodles. Sounds like a yummy alternative! I’ll have to wait until summer to try making my own pickled mustard greens, so I’ll bookmark your recipe for now… thanks! 🙂

    • Ben Ben says:

      Why do you have to wait till summer to make pickled mustard greens? Is that when you get it in your area? Funny, I see them now mostly in the winter. Our seasons are so different.

      • Row says:

        Yup, it’s too cold right now. I was looking for leafy greens today and it was slim pickings. No kale and some really sad-looking spinach. Can’t wait for summer to get here.