Mustard Rice / Gua Cai Perng (芥菜饭)

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Yields: 2 Servings Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 10 Mins Cook Time: 40 Mins Total Time: 50 Mins

This mustard rice is called gua cai perng in Hokkien, or commonly just referred to as cai perng (vegetable rice). Mustard greens are a very special vegetable to Hokkien people. There is a Hokkien saying, 芥菜从头摘, meaning that mustard greens are picked from the base. When harvesting mustard, the outer layers are cut off, leaving the tender leaves to grow. This is a cherished philosophy with the older generation: In a thriving family, the elderly pass on first, while the young ones grow, generation by generation.

清明节 Qing Ming Jie or Tomb-Sweeping Day is a traditional Chinese festival where ancestors and the dearly departed are remembered. On this day, Chinese families visit tombs to clean, pray, and make offerings. As Qing Ming is coming up, I was reminded of this dish that my mother often used to make.

Gua cai perng is a version of 闽南咸饭 / Hokkien salted rice, where the raw rice is tossed with savoury ingredients and soy sauce before cooking. The cooked rice is then mixed with fried mustard greens. The result is a slightly sticky, savoury, tasty rice dish that is full of comfort and the feeling of home.

Tips

  • Some people also add peanuts!
  • If you (or your kids) don’t like mustard greens, you can use cabbage.
  • The non-vegan version of this dish uses quite a bit of seafood. For a more fishy flavour, you can also add seaweed or vegan anchovies.
  • If you like your gua cai perng stickier and yummier, you can add some water in the pan at the end and cover with a lid.
  • If you get a crusty bit, don’t throw it out because it’s super delicious!

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Ingredients

0/9 Ingredients
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Instructions

0/14 Instructions
  • Cut the red onion into small slices and fry in 2 tbsp oil over low heat until golden brown. Set aside the fried onion and oil for later.
  • Slice the shiitake mushrooms, finely dice the carrots, and cut the mock meat (if you are using) into small pieces.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat and fry the mock meat. Depending on the type of mock meat used, it might actually absorb all the oil.
  • Add the carrots and mushrooms. If there is no more oil, add a little bit more.
  • When the carrot and mushrooms are a little darkened, add the cup of rice and mix well.
  • Add the soy sauces, the fried onion, and fried onion oil.
  • Add the normal amount of water you would use to cook a cup of rice, and transfer everything to a pot or rice cooker. Set to cook. This should take about 15 minutes.
  • Separate the stalk from the leaves from the mustard greens. Cup the stalk and leaves separately.
  • Fry the slices of ginger in 1 tbsp of sesame oil. When the ginger is browned, take it out, leaving the oil in the pan.
  • Stir-fry the mustard stalks for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the mustard leaves on top and cover the pan with a lid so the vegetable cooks in its own moisture.
  • Uncover after about 3 minutes and toss to make sure all leaves are cooked.
  • Add the cooked rice to the mustard leaves and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve hot!

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