Burong Mustasa (Fermented Mustard Greens)

Fermented mustard greens can be considered the sauerkraut of Asia. Variations of burong mustasa are found all over the region, such as in Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Laos, and China, and it’s one of the best ways to eat mustard greens.

I like eating mustasa fermented because the sourness from the fermentation tempers the sharp sting and peppery bite that the fresh leaves are known for (notice how mustasa is commonly added to sinigang?). This sharpness in mustard greens can be quite aggressive and turns off a lot of people. 

There’s also a hint of funky aroma slightly reminiscent of patis (fermented fish sauce) thanks to the fermented hugas bigas (rice wash), which I welcome as a vegan. 

Where to add burong mustasa

Chopped finely, burong mustasa is great added to stir fried dishes, including fried rice, where it’s commonly used. The lactic sourness and the funk add complexity to the simple stir fry. 

Whether served chopped or whole, burong mustasa is also usually paired as a side dish to grilled or barbecued dishes, added to clear soups for more flavor or acidity, and to fresh salads such as papaya salad. 

I also like to make fried Taiwanese buns using the chopped burong mustasa as filling or mixing it with other ingredients in an empanada. 

  • ½ kg dahon ng mustasa
  • 1-inch thumb of ginger, sliced into strips 
  • ½ to 1 cup hugas bigas
  • 10 grams (2 tsp) salt (non-iodized)

1. Wash your mustasa leaves well. Make sure to remove any sediments between the stalks. Remove any yellow leaves and trim off the base if it is dirty.

2. Place the rinsed greens inside a bowl and add the salt. Gently massage the greens until they release moisture. Drain the brine from the bowl and set aside.

3. In a clean jar, alternately layer your greens and a few slivers of ginger. Pack the greens into the jar well using your hands or a spoon.

4. Pour the brine and just enough hugas bigas to keep the greens submerged. Use any leftover rice wash as natural fertilizer. Make sure there’s at least an inch of headroom. 

5. Add a fermentation weight, such as a clean glass bottle, if needed. Seal the jar and set it on the counter. Burp daily over the next several days. 

6. Start tasting your burong mustasa on day two. Refrigerate the burong mustasa once you like the level of sourness.  You can add this to sinangag for Burong Mustasa Fried Rice or you can make a pulutan dish, Ginisang Burong Mustasa at Tokwa.

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