Cantonese chicken with pickled mustard greens.

Cantonese Chicken With Pickled Mustard Greens


Cantonese traditional haam choy chow gai, best known in our family as stir-fried/braised chicken with pickled mustard greens, is one of my Grandma’s favorite recipes.

How can I be so sure? You can’t deny it when your granny comes around for Thanksgiving dinner and brings her own dish (this one).

A fresh chicken, ginger, and her own special sour pickled mustard greens (haam choy) arrived at our door for Thanksgiving dinner in 2016. She also asked me to steam some rice for her.

For my aunt on my mother’s side, my kau mou, I served as sous chef because I was the host.

Everything she needed, from a nice cleaver and cutting board to a range of sauces and seasonings, was provided for her. I learned a few tips from my grandmother on making one of her favorite dishes at Thanksgiving.


Haam choy is a sort of sour pickled mustard green from the Cantonese or Hakka regions of China. Last week, we shared a dish for haam choy that my grandmother made.

Slightly sweet from the sugar in the pickling liquid, this dish is made from either cantonese gai choy or Mandarin cabbage. It’s a Chinese centenarian’s favorite dinner over turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes when it’s prepared with fresh chicken.

The Chinese grocery store sells vacuum-sealed containers of haam choy. However, if you create your own, this dish will taste even better. Take a look at Grandma’s recipe for haam choy. If you buy haam choy from the shop, you’ll need to thoroughly rinse and taste it because it’s much saltier than if you make it yourself.


Cooking protein and/or veggies at high heat in a stir-fry is a common method of preparing the dish. It’s common for protein to be velveted—marinated and fried, poached, or seared in a wok. It’s all well-seasoned, and the meal comes together in a flash over a high flame.

Before long simmering in the braising liquid, a browning process takes place.

This recipe is a cross between a stir-fry and a braising meal. To blend the flavors, you first stir-fry the ingredients and then do a “fast braise” in a generous amount of sauce.


Most Chinese prefer to slice a whole chicken into bite-sized chunks with the bone in for this Cantonese-style chicken dish with pickled mustard greens. Older Chinese people in particular!

Indeed, for braised recipes like this one, there’s a lot of truth in that. Even in a quick-braised dish like this one, the bones make a concentrated, fragrant sauce.

The sauce has a beautiful sticky (almost gelatinous) texture from the chicken skin, just like in our Sticky Oyster Sauce Chicken, another classic. It’s entirely up to you if that’s what you want to do! If you haven’t already, give it a whirl.

However, cutting up a whole raw chicken is a daunting undertaking for many. In addition, most people don’t like picking at bones or having to live with a stray bone fragment. When it comes to chicken chopped this way, Sarah claims it is her “most non-Chinese trait!”

As a result, boneless chicken breast or thighs are an excellent option for making this dish and enjoying it. It’s just as tasty, and my grandma can vouch for it!



  • pound boneless chicken thighs, sliced into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon of white pepper


  • 8 ounces of pickled mustard greens, cut into ½ by 1-inch strips
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves of halved and smashed garlic
  • 3 dried red chili peppers
  • 2 teaspoons of Shaoxing wine
  • 2 slices of smashed ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 1 smashed scallion
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon of white pepper


  1. Add the water, soy sauce, oyster sauce, vegetable oil, and white pepper to the chicken chunks in a bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes after mixing fully.
  2. Continue to massage the marinated chicken for an additional 30 minutes until all the marinade has been absorbed.
  3. Mix the chicken stock, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and white pepper in a pan and boil. Set away for a later time.
  4. In a clean, dry wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and the smashed ginger over medium-high heat. You’ll know they’re done when they’re slightly dry to the touch and slightly seared after about 15 seconds.
  5. Continue by adding the minced garlic, scallion whites, and a pinch of salt and dried red pepper flakes (if using). Stir-fry for a further 30 seconds to bring flavors together. This method of searing the aromatics and mustard greens truly enhances their flavor.
  6. Add a high heat setting to the wok and place the mustard greens on the side. Toss the chicken in the middle of the pan, then add the final tablespoon of oil and toss to coat. To brown the chicken, fry it for about a minute on each side. Make sure the mustard greens and other aromatics don’t burn by moving them around with the chicken.
  7. Stir for 10 seconds after adding the Shaoxing wine around the wok’s perimeter.
  8. Deglaze the pan with the prepared sauce mixture, stirring until well blended. After that, use a spatula to move everything to the center of the wok. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and stir occasionally.
  9. When the sauce is practically reduced, cover and simmer for another 3-4 minutes. You can always add a bit additional stock if you see that it’s looking dry. Continue to simmer with the lid off for a few more minutes if it’s still too watery.
  10. Stir in the green scallions and bring the heat back up to medium-high. To thicken the sauce, add a little amount of the cornstarch slurry and whisk for 20-30 seconds. As a side dish, steamed rice is a perfect complement.

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