Watercress Soup With Pork Ribs Chinese Style (Sai Yeung Choy Tong)

August 5, 2022


When I was a kid, my mom always made Chinese Watercress Soup with Pork Ribs. Sai yeung choy tong (Cantonese transliteration––the Mandarin word for this dish is x yáng cài tang) was the first dish I remember eating with my mother.


Crunchy stems and round, dark green leaves characterize the raw watercress, which has a mild peppery flavor. Traditional Cantonese Soup uses it.

Like many other leafy greens, watercress turns a drab green when cooked in soup. The result is a soup with a light green hue and a delicate flavor. You’ll be amazed at how much flavor watercress brings to this dish!

One of my favorite parts of this soup is eating the slow-cooked pork ribs with some white rice drenched in soy sauce.

Next, I’ll show you how to make my mom’s simple soup with pork bone and watercress. Even now, it’s a go-to recipe for our family.


  • 1½ lb. of pork rib tips or ribs(cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces)
  • 5 slices of ginger (⅛-inch thick)
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 to 2 bunches of watercress (each bunch is about 8 ounces)
  • 1¼ tsp. of sea salt (or to taste)
  • White pepper to taste
  • Soy sauce to serve


  1. To begin, boil the ribs for a few minutes in salted water. Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil with 6 cups of water. Combine all of the ingredients except the ribs in a saucepan and bring to a boil. After 2 minutes of simmering, remove the pot from the heat. Under running water, remove and clean the ribs. This step is critical––it ensures that your soup is clear and flavorful.
  2. Combine the blanched pork ribs, ginger pieces, and 8 cups of water in a clean pot. Simmer the water after it has been brought to a rolling boil, then remove the pot from heat. Set a timer for 90 minutes and cook in a covered pot. 90 minutes of simmering with the lid on is the recommended time. Simmer covered for 90 minutes. Low heat is required for the delicate flavor and clear broth of Cantonese soups. Make sure the soup is barely simmering but not boiling at regular intervals.
  3. For now, cut off any large, tough stems and wash well in water 2-3 times to prepare the watercress.
  4. Stir in 11/4 teaspoons of salt after the first 90 minutes of cooking, cover, and cook for a further 30 minutes.
  5. Remove any floating particles by straining the soup with a fine-mesh strainer after 30 minutes. Using a ladle, remove the accumulated fat from the soup’s surface. Add the watercress and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Soup can be cooked for 15-30 minutes at a reduced temperature. At this point, I prefer to let the watercress soup boil for 30 minutes, allowing the soup to develop a characteristic watercress taste. Keep in mind, however, that the watercress won’t be as bright. You are free to alter the cooking time to suit your needs.
  6. Salt and white pepper to taste. To accompany the soup, serve it with a hot bowl of rice and a tiny dish of light soy sauce. The ribs are incredibly soft and delicious with a little soy sauce because they’ve been simmering in the soup for so long. This classic Chinese Watercress Soup can be served as an appetizer or as a hearty one-pot meal on a chilly night.
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