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I got a good recipe for "cai chua" pork rib soup.

It really easy to do to. Its kinda sweet and sour chinese pickled cabbage soup with tomatoes...yummy. :)

Cool! Mind posting it?

Here it is:
Cai Chua/Chinese Pickle Cabbage with Pork Ribs soup

1 package of Chinese pickle cabbage. Rinse well, and cut to bite size pieces
1 lb or so pork ribs. Ribs cut to ½ inch size
1 Ripe tomato, cut in wedges
Chopped cilantro
Salt & pepper

-Clean ribs and pre-boil ribs for 3-5 minutes, drain and set ribs aside
-In a clean pot, boil 2-3 or so quart of water
-Add meat and bring it to a boil
-Lower the heat and let it simmer for ½ hr or so
-Added in cut Chinese cabbage, and tomatoes & salt
-Let it simmer for ½ hr or so
-Do a taste test and adjust your seasoning accordingly.
-If its too salty or too tart, add in more water (let it simmer for another 15 minutes if you add more water)
-Pour the soup into a bowl and sprinkle it with some chopped cilantro and a dash of freshly ground pepper.
-Serve with a bowl of white rice


OMG, this article rules! Thank you so much. I have tried various jar pickled mustard but couldn't find the stuff I had with pork in SF chinatown. Perhaps this is a close facsimile! :O)

Here in Selangor, Malaysia I usually bought this pickled mustard at the wet market. It has no brand because I think the Chinese vegetable seller pickled them herself in a big plastic container. Of course there are branded one imported from China at the hypermarkets in jar and plastic packaging like in your pics.

I noticed there are 2 types-the leafy and another one which looks like round cabbage with less leaves.

I usually slice them thinly, soak in the water to get rid of too much salt and fry them with beef and sliced red chili.

When I was 5 and we lived in Sarawak, our Chinese neighbor taught my mom how to plant the mustard and pickle them. It's tricky though because wrong technique and unsuitable weather will spoil the final result of the pickled vege. :)

Oh I wish I saw this a year ago when you first put it up. Thanks, the pics are really helpful. I really really like pickle soup (the first one from Caravelle) with other vegetables and tofu. yum

P.S. the first character you circled on the Caravelle package is "syoon" = "sour"

I recently got some chinese pickled vegetables after moving from Devon to near London area in UK after 10 years! I was overjoyed. I also bought a roast duck. I saved the bones of the roast duck and boiled my soup instead of pork ribes and added some tofu to it! It was amazing and reminds me of home. My mother used to do it with roast pig legs but that is not soemthing one can easily get in UK! Yummy!

Thanks "allopathicholistic", for pointing out my error. I'd better go back and double-check all those characters.

Thanks for the pictures and detailed write up here.

The 2 characters in the 2nd picture can be understood literally as "open the palate".

The 2 characters in the 3rd picture can be understood literally as "open the stomach".

Both can be used to mean a side dish to improve the appetite.

If I am not wrong, pao cai (whether the chinese or korean version) is almost always pickled/preserved chinese cabbage, not mustard green.

I'm interested in preserving chinese mustard green(kai choy) to make 'hum choy'. Anyone can tell me how to do it?

Nice blog! My search for ma yi shang shu led me to your tasty food pics. Could you post the table of contents of Land of Plenty? Amazon doesn't have it for some reason.

I think the pickled mustard green you want is called xue3 cai4 (literally, snow vegetable 雪菜). It is just salty, not sour and they come moist in small cans (about half the size of canned dace). I think the can is yellow and orange with various characters/pictures. It is very good in pork baozi and nearly everything :) You have to be careful though: if you get the wrong can, you'll end up with zha cai instead (the root rather than the leaves). A dried version is called mei2 gan1 cai4 (plum dry vegetable 梅干菜). This is used in the famous mei2 cai4 kou4 rou4 (梅菜扣肉). Since Boston does not really like spicy food (the fresh habaneros aren't even spicy here...), I often resort to lao3 gan1 ma1 (老干妈) chili sauce with peanuts. I prefer that over hot sauce in that laoganma isn't sour. They also sell pretty good fermented black beans (豆豉).

When people ask me for good Sichuan food, I always tell them to get my three favorites: shui2 zhu3 yu2 (water-boiled fish, 水煮鱼), la4 zi3 ji1 ding1 (pepper chicken cubes, 辣子鸡丁), and hui2 guo1 rou4 (twice cooked pork, 回锅肉). I usually suggest fu1 qi1 fei4 pian4 (husband and wife lung pieces, 夫妻肺片) and ma2 la4 niu2 jin1 (beef tendon, 麻辣牛筋) as appetizers. Fuqi feipian is famous in Sichuan. I think you've ordered all of these in some form or another. Another good dish at Chung King (not sure why it is called that as its menu has the proper spelling: Chong Qing) is jiao1 yan2 pai2 gu3 (pepper and salt spareribs). It might not actually be Sichuan food, but it is the only spicy dish (and its shrimp variant: jiaoyan xia) that I order at Cantonese restaurants.


I've found the ya cai around here in the SF Bay Area. It comes in vacuum sealed bags and in jars. The brand in jars that I find out here says "yacai pickles" in the packaging, if I remember correctly.

I have an unopened package of bagged ya cai right here in my hands. It says (in English) "Tianfu Salted Vegetable," and the name of the company is Sichuan Province Hongteng Jiawei Food Co., Ltd.

The back of the bag has a sticker with distributor information (all sic):


Looking to make Pao Cai I came by your blog.

Mustard greens is quite versatile and it can be salted or pickled (soured) which makes for very different flavors and uses. In my experience the Xue Cai (salted mustard leaves) is like zha cai (salted mustard heart). They are often used in dry stir fries with pork i.e. noodle dishes. These enhance dishes with that special mustard flavor with the addition of salt. Suan Cai is not only salted but left to ferment (therefore the name preserved) which gives them the sour flavor. This is often used in casserole or soup dishes. Hope this helps.

I am writing this most importantly to warn that please PLEASE, do not buy pickled or salted products from China. There is no food safety standards and there is no assurance regarding listed ingredients. They have been using "industrial salt" that is not fit for human consumption. Article:


There should be enough Taiwanese products to chose from. I have found that the Vietnamese markets sometimes make their own sour mustard greens and I have found that making your own Xue Cai is no surgery either. Salt and mustard leaves!

Good Luck!!

You can actually buy these stuff through the internet at http://PosharpStore.com. It sounds there are lot of quite good selections of Sichuanese food items except their cooking ware.

The literal translation for the last thing you couldn't translate with the word "opening", like someone already suggested, literally translates to "open stomach vegetable." The phrase "open stomach" in chinese merely means appetizing. So the name of that jar actually does not mean anything besides "appetizing vegetable". The image above says "appetizing sour vegetable". The characters palate and stomach are homynyms (they have the same sound) and, in this case, are being used interchangeably for appetizing.

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