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.
- 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!