Last week, I posted a recipe for Easy Braised Turnip Rice Bowls because this is the time when Chinese turnips (aka daikon radishes) are being harvested in the chilly final days of fall. Mustard greens are another great fall vegetable. There are many different varieties of mustard greens. The variety we use in this recipe is the Chinese mustard greens –– called xuelihong in Chinese (雪里红). While we were lucky enough to find fresh xuelihong at our Chinese supermarket, we more often enjoy mustard greens pickled. You’ve probably seen it either in a can or a vacuum-packed pouch.
So “why mustard greens?” you may ask. There is a Hunan restaurant in New Jersey that we go to more often than we would care to admit. The boss–a delightful, plump, rosy-cheeked woman–greets us with that familiar smile and a friendly nod every time we walk in. Stepping into this restaurant is like being transported back to China. Almost every patron is Chinese, and the menus include glossy pictures of every dish they create, just like the menus in China.
Each of us has our favorites there, and, usually without asking, I order the Hunan Steamed Fish with Pickled Chili and Tofu before I even sit down, as it takes about 20 to 30 minutes to prepare. This is the one dish that all four of us can agree on. Other things we order without fail: Kaitlin orders her beloved stir-fried pickled long beans with minced pork. Bill’s preferred dish is a stir-fry of green chili peppers with thousand year-old eggs (Sounds strange, clearly, but it tastes divine). Sarah usually goes for the braised beef with glass noodle casserole. As for me, my absolute favorite is their mustard green stir fry. This dish has a kind of wicked power over me, as I seem to crave it on a weekly basis (hence the eating at this restaurant way too often). So when I spotted the fresh mustard greens at the store, there was no doubt that I would blog this recipe for our archives!
One note on this recipe–I do want to point out that cooking leafy greens requires a lot of oil. Please don’t be alarmed when you see how much oil I used for this recipe, which, in a way, I still think was not quite enough if you’re really looking for that restaurant finish.
Another key ingredient is the sugar––I don’t usually add sugar when stir frying leafy greens, but in this case, the sugar helps to offset the bitter taste of the mustard greens, which are slightly more bitter than broccoli rabe. Another add-in that might spark controversy is organic chicken bouillon, which is a stand-in for the sprinkling of MSG restaurants rely on. Even though it’s not a required ingredient, half a teaspoon of bouillon can go a long way and even help the picky eaters you’re feeding eat more greens!
And lastly, an important tip! When cooking leafy greens, there is a rule that you must follow. Never cover and uncover the lid more than once during cooking. Doing this will turn the greens yellow rather than a bright verdant green!
- 4 tablespoons oil
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
- A small handful of dried red chili peppers, deseeded and cut
- 1¼ pounds mustard greens, thoroughly washed and cut into small (about 1 cm long) pieces
- 1½ teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon organic chicken bouillon (optional)
Heat the oil oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the garlic and chili peppers and cook for about a minute, being sure to avoid burning the garlic.
Now add the mustard greens, turning the heat up to the highest setting. Add the sugar, sesame oil, and salt (and organic chicken bouillon if using). Stir and mix everything well.
Cover the lid, and let it cook for about 45 seconds to a minute. Now uncover, stirring the greens one more time. Plate and serve immediately!
Stir-fried Chinese Mustard Greens (Xuelihong)
- Heat the oil oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the garlic and chili peppers and cook for about a minute, being sure to avoid burning the garlic.
- Now add the mustard greens, turning the heat up to the highest setting. Add the sugar, sesame oil, and salt (and organic chicken bouillon if using). Stir and mix everything well.
- Cover the lid, and let it cook for about 45 seconds to a minute. Now uncover, stirring the greens one more time. Plate and serve immediately!