Dua Chua Lactofermented Mustard Greens

dua chua

Mustard greens are great in stir fry’s and soups but a favorite way to this enjoy this vegetable is lactofermented, dua cai chua.   Growing up my mom always had a big jar of dua cai chua to serve during our weekday meals to complement any protein dish she made, whether it be ca kho to (clay pot fish), suon xao chua ngot (sweet sour pork ribs), thit kho (caramelized pork belly), or ga kho (caramelized chicken).  The pickling decreases some of the bite of the bitterness and pungeness of the raw vegetable and brings out the natural sweet and sour of the mustard greens.

There are many different ways to pickle, from quick pickles with vinegar to lactofermentation.  The classic do chua (pickled carrots and daikon) is the quick pickle. But unlike do chua, pickled mustard greens is lactofermente with salt and water and without vinegar.  Pickling is like making nuoc mam, many people have their variations and you can make it as complicated or as simple as you like. We typically only include yellow onion with the mustard greens, but you can include any other aromatics such as ginger or garlic or chiles. Dua cai chua requires very little preparation. We start by wilting it in the sun–if that’s not an option because of rain, a quick 30 second blanch in boiling water will work.  We never buy pre-pickled packages or in the big bins in the Asian grocery stores because the ingredients should only be mustard greens, water, and salt not the long list of preservatives.


Comparing to what you can make at home it’s so much cheaper and healthier…what’s all those extra ingredients!?  The salt brine and natural bitterness of the mustard green ferments and in a few days you get tasty, crunchy dua chua.

There’s no measurements in this recipe, it’s that simple.  All you need to do is make a 2-4% salt brine (ie. 1000 ml of water gets 20-40 g of salt) and it’ll take 2-5 days or more depending on how hot the weather is.  At the desire level of fermentation, store inside the fridge to keep for a longer time.
dua chua

Always keep handy and enjoy with any meat dish such as our sweet and sour pork ribs…the pickled mustard green is sour, sweet, and just enough bitterness and pungency to add any interest to whatever you’re making for dinner.


Dua Cai Chua - Lactofermented Mustard Greens

You will need a scale and a container with a lid. Any food safe plastic or glass container will do. The fermentation will go faster in hotter temperatures. You will need only as much water to cover your mustard greens, hence we do not list a set amount. You need to make 2-4% salt solution, depending on your preferences. When done with the batch, save some of the liquid to inoculate the next batch and it'll go quicker.


1-2 bunch of whole mustard greens, stem and leaves sliced in 1-2 inch segments.
1-2 onions, sliced thinly.
kosher or sea salt 


Wilt the mustard greens leaves in the direct sun until leaves wilt, usually a couple of hours. Cut and wash mustard greens. Make a 2-4% salt solution. We like it right down the middle at 3%, but test and use your preference. (for example, 1 liter or 1000 ml of water gets 20-40 grams of salt. Just submerge the mustard greens and onions in the solution and leave on counter. We don't find the need to weigh it down, but you do need to rotate the greens every few days to make for even fermentation. Depending on the weather and ambient temperature it could take 3-5 days or longer to be done. The color will change from bright green to military green and the solution will slightly more viscous and have a pleasant sour smell.

You can keep it on the counter but it will continue to sour. We like to store ours in the fridge to slow down the fermentation and keeps longer.

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26 Responses to “Dua Chua Lactofermented Mustard Greens”

  1. 1

    noobcook — June 7, 2010 @ 8:50 am

    I've not tried making it by myself before. yours look good served with rice and the pork ribs. I usually eat it with porridge, add to soups or steamed fish 🙂

  2. 2

    Kung Food Panda — June 7, 2010 @ 10:08 am

    Great idea! My mom has stopped buying the pre-packaged variety as she said it's too unhealthy. I should let her know how to make it from scratch!

  3. 3

    Lan — June 7, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

    my parents would put them in the sun a couple hours before doing the pickling…hmmm i wonder why they that?

  4. 4

    Fresh Local and Best — June 8, 2010 @ 2:18 am

    My mom still pickles her own mustard, and I can tell you homemade is the best! Pickled mustard does taste great in soups with pork. I also remember having chopped pickled mustard in omelet, which was also very good.

  5. 5

    Christine@Christine's Recipes — June 8, 2010 @ 4:35 am

    Totally agree. Pickled Mustard is great for stir fry. My fav. is to fry them with beef. very yummy.
    I've never tried to make pickled mustard before. I think the homemade one is the best, tailor-made to suit personal taste. Wonderful !

  6. 6

    Ravenous Couple — June 8, 2010 @ 5:56 am

    noobcook: there's so many good uses for pickled mustard greens, thanks for mentioning them!

    KFP: it's really really easy.

    Lan: yes, drying them in the sun is pretty common practice..but blanching them serves the same purpose, to slightly wilt them and it's easier when there's no sun and you don't have to wait around for the sun. 🙂

    christine: oohh in an omelet sounds good!

    christine: stir fry mustard greens are indeed excellent!

  7. 7

    Table Talk — June 8, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

    I've never had pickled mustard greens—kind of feel like I've been missing out! Thats what I love about your site; always something new for me to learn about Vietnamese cooking 🙂

  8. 8

    5 Star Foodie — June 8, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

    Pickled mustard greens sound wonderful, I can't wait to try to make them! Sounds terrific with the pork ribs!

  9. 9

    My Man's Belly — June 8, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

    I've just discovered pickling with salt. Made some salt pickled sour plums. Have really enjoyed them. I'm going to try your mustard green recipe.

  10. 10

    triplescoopdesserts — June 8, 2010 @ 9:11 pm

    Very cool. I've always seen the stuff in the store but I never buy it because I'm not sure who of the food source. Now that I have your recipe I don't have to ask my Mom for some!

  11. 11

    David — June 9, 2010 @ 2:28 am

    OMG i decided to be lazy the other day and used the packaged kind from thailand or somewhere and it ended up being a big mistake…tummy aches weren't the half… great job on the post!

  12. 12

    Jean — June 11, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

    Ooh, I want to try this! I really like pickled vegetables but I've never made them before. I can mustard greens would be great this way with their slightly peppery flavor.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. 13

    Ravenous Couple — June 12, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

    jean and bao: let us know how it turns out!

    david: oohh sorry to hear that..the packaged items may be sitting on the shelf for a long time.

  14. 14

    Tiny Urban Kitchen — June 20, 2010 @ 4:32 am

    This is great! I've tried making my own a few times but I never measure, so sometimes it turns out too salty and other times it's OK. Thanks for sharing the Vietnamese version (which, unsurprisingly, isn't that different from the Chinese version!)

  15. 15

    oak dining table — November 26, 2010 @ 3:11 am

    I agree. Pickled mustards are the best when it comes to frying. I have been using it for like months now.

  16. 16

    To-Lan — August 31, 2011 @ 7:57 am

    My mom also blanched shallots halved/quartered for a nice kick.
    love making soup w/ pork belly slices fried in bacon scraps/drippings and a tomato. As a cihld my job would be to get a small dish and get some out to help set the table. This or another vietnamese pickled goods (i.e. our kimchi) were a staple on the table.

  17. 17

    Aley Chubeza #92 – November 21st-23rd 2011 | Chubeza — November 22, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

    […] Pickled mustard greens […]

  18. 18

    Turnip greens pickle « Terpsinoe — February 10, 2013 @ 6:17 am

    […] used this recipe for a traditional brined Vietnamese-style pickle, but modified it by leaving out the onion and […]

  19. 19

    Jeanie — March 30, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

    I’ve never cooked with sour/pickled mustard greens before.
    I don’t eat pork nor beef, anyone have chicken recipe I can try?

  20. 20

    Debbie — July 13, 2013 @ 11:09 pm

    Will it be sour without vinegar?

  21. 21

    The Ravenous Couple — July 19, 2013 @ 9:50 am

    yes! dry, then it pickles with just salt and water.

  22. 22

    TD — April 23, 2014 @ 12:20 am

    Thank you for this recipe! I’ve made 2 batches of this and it’s been perfect! Before this, I’ve only left this dish to the “pros” such as one of my sisters-in-law. She would make me a batch whenever I craved it. She always tell me how it’s done but it’s never stuck and just seem so mysteriously tricky. Not any more. The best compliment was when my kids ate it and loved it! 😀

  23. 23

    The Ravenous Couple — April 23, 2014 @ 11:51 am


  24. 24

    Krystyna @ Spring Mountain Living — August 29, 2014 @ 6:50 am

    Is being in the fridge necessary? I’m looking for a way to pickle some greens that don’t require refrigeration. Thanks!

  25. 25

    The Ravenous Couple — August 29, 2014 @ 10:27 am

    no, but it certainly last longer. if you choose not to refrigerate, then keep in cool dark spot.

  26. 26

    Chiang Mai Curry Noodles - Ang Sarap — April 19, 2016 @ 12:02 am

    […] I will be missing some ingredients like the pickled mustard greens and the crispy noodles but what important is that I recreated it to nearly similar flavour and I […]

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