Sze Chuan Mustard Soup (Zha Choy Tong)

I like mustard. Do you like mustard? All my childhood, I never had yellow or grainy mustard before. Maybe I have but I didn’t know it. So the second I started living on my own (with hubs, of course) and had full control of what I could stock in my kitchen, mustard was one of the first few things.

It was, like, explosive! In a very good way. Super tangy, super pungent, super good on everything. I think I’ve dipped fried pork chop in a mix of mayonnaise and grainy mustard before. I’ve used yellow mustard in place of butter. haha… I need a new jar of mustard.

That said, the only type of so-called mustard I’d had when growing up was of the tuber kind. Pickled mustard tuber Sze Chuan style. Not at all like it’s Western namesake. These tubers are pickled in salt and chillies, not unlike kim chi, and produces a smell similar to  sauerkraut. I call them “Zha Choy”.

We usually have them in soups where they lend a sweet, salty, sour & spicy flavour all at once. I also love them sliced thinly in stirfries or scattered over noodles. It gives dishes just that perfect kick. Only thing to look out, though, is that they are VERY salty. I’d usually soak 1/2 of the portion I’ll be using and leave the other 1/2 unsoaked. 

Aaaaanyway, for the soup of the day, I used some Zha Choy, Pork Shoulder Bones, Tomato, Carrot, Ginger & Red Dates (Jujubes).Zha Choy Soup 1

Usually when I make this, I’d use zha choy from the wet market instead of the packaged kind. Those from the wet market seems fresher and has a more intensed flavour whereas packaged ones are blander and have a weird aftertaste. Sadly, I didn’t have time to run to the market so I had to settle on packaged ones this time. I’ll write a new post on those market ones when I get my hands on some.Zha Choy Soup 2

Slicety slice then dump.Zha Choy Soup 3

Always always blanch meat before using in soups – says Mom.Zha Choy Soup 4

Most important ingredient of all would be the water.Zha Choy Soup 5

And after sufficient time in the heat, we have a tangy and barely spicy soup that would warm you on a gloomy morning.Zha Choy Soup 6

It was about to rain actually. I needed the soup.Zha Choy Soup 7

This soup can even be a meal on it’s own if you added in some rice or quinoa. Zha Choy Soup 8

So even though this isn’t the kind of mustard many of you are familiar with, do give this soup a go if you ever see some pickled mustard tubers around. You might get hooked.





“But Jesus turned Him about, and when He saw her, He said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.” (Matthew 9:22)

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Sze Chuan Mustard Soup (Zha Choy Tong)
serves 10-12

1 lbs (450gms) Pork Shoulder Bones, blanched
1 or 2 knobs pickled Mustard Tuber (zha choy), about 200gms
1 Tomato
1 Carrot, peeled & cut to wedges
10 Red Dates (Jujubes)
4 slices old Ginger
8 cups water, or until top of your pot

  1. Start by soaking 1/2 of the zha choy you’ll be using in water for at about 15 minutes while you go about preparing the other ingredients.
  2. Wash all the zha choy well and slice into thick 1 cm (1/2 inch) slices. Place in the pot with all the other ingredients plus water.
  3. If boiling on stovetop, let it come to rapid boil and turn down to a simmer for 1.5 hours.
  4. If using slow cooker, make sure water is boiling hot before adding into the pot. Boil on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4 hours.
  5. Ladle up and savour on a cold gloomy day.


  1. Your produce is so interesting! And I bet that would be just wonderful with quinoa. I’m not thinking that we have mustard tubers around here, so what could I add to give it that flavor?

    • Ooh.. Now that’s an interesting question. Kim chi would be an option, albeit crunchier and much less salty. Though I’ve never tried kim chi in soup before. It’s quite a unique ingredient. I hate to say this but I don’t know another ingredient that comes close to these mustards. Now the challenge in on. I’ll be looking out for a reliable substitute. Will keep you posted!


  1. […] while retaining the soft meaty texture of those thick stems. These are also pickled and used in soups, stews and stirfries. They are really dirty though, so a very thorough leaf-by-leaf rinsing is […]

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