Thai pickled mustard greens (Pak Gad Dong) is a delicious pickle vegetable used in many Thai dishes as a tasty side dish to boost flavors. If you love the strong taste of pickles, olives, capers, or any tasty pickled vegetables, you’ll love this recipe!
Check out this popular Thai cucumber salad for satay for more light and tasty recipes. Also, these sweet, sour, and salty Thai crispy egg salad yum kai dao and my favorite, the Easy Thai beef salad recipe.
This is one of my Thai mom’s favorite Thai side dishes. I remember walking around Thailand markets with her, and she would always look for her beloved Pak Gad Dong while I scrunched my nose at her for loving such a strong-tasting pickling vegetable. It was one of the simple and total comfort food that brought me fond memories of her.
Now that my tastebud has developed and grown, I realize what a fun and tasty side dish it is. My 7-year-old daughter is obsessed with it and can crush an entire jar alone in 2-3 days. I’m not kidding! Wozer!
What Is Thai Pickled Mustard Green (Pak Gad Dong)?
Thai pickled mustard greens (Pak Gad Dong) are made by pickling Chinese mustard greens in sticky rice water, distilled vinegar, and salt. Once the pickling process is complete, the mustard greens turn sour and salty with a slightly crunchy texture the leafy mustard greens.
It’s a simple recipe with bold flavors when added to the main dish. Pad Gad Dong is typically used in stirfry, soups, salads, or as a garnish in dishes like scrambled eggs, curries, or pork soups. There are many different ways to use this pickled greens recipe.
You'll find many versions of the Pickled mustard greens recipe in many Asian cuisines. This sour vegetable is similar and is used in stir-fries, soups, and curries. In China, it’s called haam cho, In Vietnam it’s dua cai chua, In Laos and in Isaan Thailand, it is called Som Pak Gaat, and In Thailand it is called Pak Gad Dong. (I grew up with both the Laos and Thai names!)
Store-bought mustard greens are typically sold in small vacuum-sealed packages. I almost always find the flavors too strong to overpower any dish used. The food coloring is also a bit unsettling, so I prefer to make my own at home. I can adapt and adjust as needed, and it's much healthier without all the preservatives.
Why This Recipe Works
- You can make a large batch of this recipe and use it for weeks!
- It’s so versatile. You can use it for many dishes or just eat plain or chop up a few pieces for a hamburger or salad.
- You can jazz up any simple dishes by adding these pickled greens to them. There are many various ways to use it. Get creative!
- It’s much healthier and cheaper than the small store-bought mustard greens in a package.
- You can modify the taste and flavors with spices and herbs options. The store-bought version only comes in one flavor.
What Goes Into This Recipe
No additional herbs or spices are added to the traditional Thai Pak Gad Dong recipe. This is just my little twist on a classic Thai dish. I've done both, with and without, and loved both equally and want to share that nugget of tips here to help jazz up your Thai cooking even more. All these are completely optional, of course!
Mustard greens. The main ingredient used for this sour vegetable recipe. You can find them at most Asian grocery stores. Look for signs that read mustard greens, gai choy, or green mustards. They are typically grouped near other leafy salad green vegetables like Bok Choy, Chinese broccoli, water spinach, and so forth. Ask for help if you can’t identify them.
Sticky Rice. The rice is what we will use to help with the fermentation of the mustard greens. Also called glutinous rice or sweet rice. Use jasmine rice if you don’t have sticky rice. We will use the rice water to help ferment, giving this easy recipe its sour flavor.
Water. Use clean, fresh water. Approximately 6-7 cups of water are used to soak the rice. Save the excess water until you are completely done with the recipe to ensure you have enough to cover the mustard greens.
Salt. Use good quality sea salt rather than table salt. Sea salt is a great option.
Vinegar. Use distilled white vinegar. It helps speed up the pickling process and adds that little extra oomph of sour taste but not too strong.
Herbs. Garlic, ginger, fresh or dried chilis, chives, bay leaf, or green onions. All optional!
Tools needed for making Pickled Mustard Greens
- Large glass jar with lid
- Fermentation glass weight.
- Cotton nut milk bags bags or cheesecloth
- Ziplock bags to use with cooking twine or rubber bands.
How To Make Thai pickled Mustard Greens
Step 1. Soak the sticky rice in water in a large bowl for a minimum of 15-20 minutes. Drain the milky-looking rice water, save the water for use to pickle the mustard greens. Separate the rice from the water and save rice grains and water for later steps.
Step 2. Add salt and vinegar to a medium-sized pan. Stir vigorously until the salt is mostly dissolved. Then Lightly smash the garlic and ginger to release the oil, and add the rest of the herbs to a large mixing bowl with rice water.
Step 3. Wash the mustard greens in cold water and let dry, then cut into large pieces, 3-4 inches long. Cut the stems into thin pieces about ¼ inch thick and 3-4 inches long. Add just enough salt (½ tablespoon) to mustard greens and massage the mustard greens with your fingers for 2-3 minutes. Rub salt into the greens until the leafy greens look bruised and wilted. Skip this step if you don’t have time.
Step 4. Wash your glass container, towel dry, and add the chopped-up mustard greens into the jar. Layers the leaves with herbs of choice, tuck in between. Pack it in tight. Pour the cool salty brine into the jar until completely covered with the mustard greens. Make sure there's enough brine, or mold will form.
Step 5. Pour the soaked rice into a cotton cloth sack, synch the string tight, tie a knot, and then submerge the sack over the mustard greens in the glass jar. This is the weight to help keep the mustard greens under brine water. It’s ok if the top of the sack is not completely submerged, but be sure all the mustard greens are.
Step 6. Close the lid and keep the glass jar at room temperature. The sun is fine, too, for the quick fermentation to take place. This recipe is quick and easy and doesn't require a long time for the mustard greens to be pickled.
Step 7. The color of the mustard greens will change from bright green to yellow as time passes. Check the mustard greens on day 2 and taste a small piece to see if you like the flavors. Taste the chilis if it’s too spicy and either pickle it for 2-4 more days or be done and place the glass jar in the fridge. It stays good for up to 4 weeks! Enjoy it daily! With your omelet, fried rice, salads, soups, or by itself!
Helpful Kitchen notes
- When cutting the mustard greens, cut the stems into small ones rather than leave them in large chunks. Leave the top of the greens large or uncut as they wilt into smaller pieces in the pickling process.
- Don’t throw away the rice in the rice sack once you are done pickling the mustard greens. I steam or cook the rice and TASTE the BOLD and DELICIOUS pickled rice!
- Jasmine or Japanese rice is ok as a substitute for sticky rice.
- Use a large empty pickle jar if you don't have a tall glass jar. Wash it well with soap and hot water before use.
- For the weight to place over the glass jar, there are 4 options.
Where can I find mustard greens?
You can find mustard greens at most Asian markets. There are man breeds of mustard greens. I used the longed steams and large leaf kind. If you find the large steamed with short leaf kind, chop them into smaller pieces before pickling to help with ease of use in pickling and eating.
Are pickled mustard greens healthy?
Yes. Pickled mustard greens are very healthy. The pickling process uses all-natural ingredients with no added sugar or preservatives.
What do pickled mustard greens taste like?
Pickled mustard greens taste like kimchi without the spicy gochujang peppers. It’s salty, sour, and crunchy with a slight taste of the bitterness of the mustard greens. The leafy part looks and tastes like pickled napa cabbage too. T
How long can you keep pickled mustard greens?
Pickled mustard greens can be kept for weeks in the refrigerator. Once you are pleased with the pickles taste, remove the weight off the top of the glass jar and put the rest in the fridges for 4-6 weeks.
More Thai Recipes You’ll Love!
- Thai crispy egg salad yum kai dao
- Thai cucumber salad
- Thai green mango salad with cashew
- Thai glass noodles salad with shrimp
- Easy Thai beef salad recipe
- Namtok Thai beef waterfall salad
- Thai green papaya salad
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