There are several bitter and pungent vegetables that I love to eat like bitter gourd, chicon (Belgian Endive), and Gai Choi/Kua Chai is one of them. I can assure you, is like eating mustard instead of seeds, you're eating the fleshy and thick stems and pungent leaves. I also like wasabi... ☺ According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), bitterness is good for cleansing gallbladder, liver, kidneys, etc.
This Chinese Mustard Cabbage appeared mostly in soups, stir-fries and pickled as salted mustard leaves. The size is very large... sometimes you can find as big as human head! One thing weird about this Mustard Cabbage was it has lots of holes which means ... worms, well, most of the time. I remembered my mom used to remind me to look for wriggles even after the vegetable washed. I don't know why but that's how most Asian people recognised this vegetable. Yep, no joke about it! I'm lucky the piece I bought as pictured here is clear of worms but still with holes here and there on the leaves! That's why is best to soak the leaves longer in water to get rid of this pest and also dirt. Usually, I will soak the leaves in warm water with vinegar for few minutes, rinsed and drained in a colander.
To cook this vegetable is quite easy... For soup, I used a whole head. I easily could finished that amount in one sitting but I tried to constraint myself from doing so ☺. For stir-fries, I usually use about 4 large outter leaves for 2 persons because the leaves emerged smaller as you peel towards the heart of the cabbage. So, you need to adjust the quantity accordingly.
Stir-Fry Gai Choi With Shiitake Mushrooms and Salted Fish
2-4 leaves Gai Choi (Chinese Mustard Greens)
4 pcs Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, soaked until soften & drained
10 g - 20 g Salted Fish (any type will do) (optional)
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 pc Carrot-julienned
Some Water or Chicken stock, about 1/2 - 1 cup (optional)
Oil for cooking
Salt to taste (optional)
1. Wash the Gai Choi leaves (Chinese Mustard Greens) thoroughly from grits and drained. Cut or tear into bite size pieces. Set aside.
2. Cut the softened Dried Shiitake Mushrooms into strips.
3. Rinse the Salted Fish from excess saltiness. Pat dry with kitchen papers. Sliced into small pieces of 5 cm,
4. Heat a wok/pan with some cooking oil. When pan is really hot, add in the minced garlic. Stir until fragrant.
5. Add in the Salted Fish and fry until it's golden brown and crispy.
6. Then the sliced mushrooms strips and julienned carrot. Stir for a moment.
7. Add in the Gai Choi, stir quickly and add in the Chicken Stock or Water. Let it simmer until the vegetable soften to your liking. * When I'm using salted fish or Chicken stock, I don't add any more salt. Adjust the taste accordingly.
8. Dish out and serve with rice.