Hot and Sour Chinese Mustard Vegetable Stew (Choy Keok)

This hot and sour vegetable stew has been my ALL TIME favorite dish since childhood. My mom used to make this whenever we have enough leftover meats, usually after a big dinner with lots of leftovers. Spicy and tangy with robust flavor, this stew is definitely super addictive and appetizing!

My mom called this dish 'Lap Sap Choy', direct translate will get 'Rubbish Vegetables' simply because she just dumped whatever leftover dishes she could find in the fridge into the big pot, together with freshly bought chinese mustard vegetables / kai choy. (Inset: Photo Right)

I grew up thinking that this is the actual name for this dish until I met my hubby. He laughed at me (he always laugh at my cantonese) when I told him that I wanted to eat 'Lap Sap Choy'. We had a long debate on what is the actual name for this dish (yes, I was very stubborn) and finally I gave in because he was able to convinced me that the latter is a better name for this yummylicious dish. Hence, this dish is known as 'Choy Keok' since.

Each families has their own grandma's recipe of Choy Keok. Some put lots of ginger, some put lemongrass and some like it more sourish, while some like it super hot. My family and my hubby's has very similar tastebud. We both like it spicy and sour, with both equally balanced. My mom (in law) taught me how to cook this dish. I've cooked this dish numerous times and always get compliments from those who has tried. This is a fail-proof recipe.

The key ingredient to a yummylicious Choy Keok is a good meat base, in which you may use roasted duck/ ducks' necks or roasted pork or even roasted pig's head/ other parts. Usually i will use roasted pig's head/ other parts from the leftover we had when we dined at Chinese restaurant. I will wrap the leftover parts tightly with clingwrap and then store in a zipper bag, pressing out as much air as possible. With proper handling, the roasts can be kept in freezer for upto 6 months.

There is no exact measurement to this recipe because the water releases by the vege is different each time you make them. And it also depends on the roasted meat base you have. What I do is that I will add in some seasoning after the vege has just wilted and let it simmer under medium low heat for approx. 1 hour. After that, add seasoning accordingly. If you taste the soup at the beginning of the stewing, it will have a bittery taste and you will not be able to season your stew accurately.

To get the to right spiciness, you need to adjust as you cook. At the beginning, start with a small amount of dried chillies. DO NOT add too many dried chillies at the beginning. If it is overly spicy, you will not be able to salvage your stew. Add a few pieces at a time (depending on the spiciness of your dried chillies) and adjust accordingly. One note to keep in mind is that it will get hotter as you cook. So, do let the dried chillies to release its 'power' first before adding more. Likewise with the assam keping.

The most tedious work when cooking Choy Keok is having to wash bunches after bunches of vegetables. If you and your families are lovers of this addictive and appetizing stew, a bunch or two will not be enough. For me, I usually need to wash 5 - 7 bunches of chinese mustard vegetables.

For this time, I've cooked 5 big bunches and this is the result of it. The pot I am using is a 7 litres pot and it only filled slightly a little more than half the pot.


Separate the leaves and soak them in salted water for approx. 10 - 20 minutes. Just add 1 - 2 teaspoons of salt to water.

Usually bugs/worms/vege insects likes to linger around this type of vege. You will need to clean the veges thoroughly. If you found any bugs/worms/vege insects, just remove it/ them and you are clear to go. Here you can see a cute baby snail crawling ever so slowly on my vege.

Scrub the leaves one by one, front and back with your fingers under running tap water. Make sure there are no dirts or bugs/worms/vege insects on the leaves.

Cut the vege into desired sizes and rinse them in a basin of water.

Drain in colander and it's ready to be used. Here are the cut veges from 2 bunches of chinese mustard. Seems alot but once it wilted into the soup, you'll feel like there are not enough for everyone.

Prep Time  : 40 mins
Cook Time : 3 hours
Total Time : 3 hours and 40 mins
Makes       : approx. half pot of a 7ℓ pot

5 bunches chinese mustard vegetables
Some 1eftover roasted pork & other parts
5 cloves crushed garlic
1 inch ginger (thick slices)
10 pcs dried chillies
4 - 5 pcs assam keping
2 pkts shimeji mushrooms (optional)

Light soy sauce
Oyster sauce
Rock sugar

1. Soak the dried chillies and assam keping in water for approx. 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Get ready your first batch of vege: Wash one or two bunches of vegetables first and cut them into desired sizes. Drain in a colander until needed.

3. In a thick-bottomed big pot, using medium high heat, sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant. Sear in the roasted pork and other parts, browning a little at the bottom of the pot. The searing and browning will give this stew a boost of flavor. Deglaze the bottom of pot with half cup of water. Add in dried chillies and assam keping.

4. Add in the vegetables with the harder stem on the bottom and the leafy parts on top. Close the lid and let it cook for 10-20 minutes or until the next batch of vege is ready.

5. While the stew is cooking, prepare your next batch of vege by repeating the washing, scrubbing and rinsing steps. Throw in the vegetables into the big pot when they are thoroughly cleaned.

6. Before each add of veges, stir the stew well so that all veges are submerged in the stew. You do not need to add any water. The vegetables will release water into the stew.

7. Repeat step 5 until all vegetables are used up. For the last add of veges, let it simmer until the veges begin to soften and turn color slightly then turn down the heat to medium low and add in some seasonings just enough to flavor the stew. At this point, the stew will taste bitter. You will not be able to adjust the taste of the stew accurately. Let it simmer for approx. 1 hour.

8. After 1 hour of simmering under medium low heat, now is the time to taste your stew. If it is not spicy or sour enough, add in dried chillies or assam keping. If it is not salty enough, add in light soy sauce, oyster sauce and/ or salt. If it has not got enough gravy, add a cup or two of hot water. Make your own adjustment accordingly. Add in shimeji mushrooms and simmer for another 30 - 60 minutes or until all veges are soft enough to be eaten.

9. Serve piping hot!

● This stew is best to be eaten the next day after cooking. And the flavor gets better with each day passes. Just leave the pot on the stove, bringing it to a boil and simmer a few minutes at each nights and mornings.

Make this recipe? Don't forget to snap a photo of it and tag #msyummyliciousrecipe on social media! I would love to see them! Enjoy my recipe!

I am linking this post to "Cook & Celebrate CNY 2016" organized by Yen from GoodyFoodies, Diana from The Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

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