Back to blog

Xuelihong: The Best Stir-Fried Mustard Greens Recipe

Xuelihong: The Best Stir-Fried Mustard Greens Recipe


Do you love collard greens? Do you go crazy for kale? If the answer is yes, then you’re going to love xuelihong. This stir-fried Chinese dish might not be the most well-known in the United States, but it is comforting and delicious. 


Xuelihong offers a spicy sweetness reminiscent of southern greens that will not disappoint you. It’s an easy-to-make veggie dish that is commonly served alongside a meat-centric main course.


So let’s talk about this Xuelihong dish. You’ll be making it once a week once you try them!

 

What Are Xuelihong Used For?

Xuelihong is used in cuisines throughout the world. From Chinese to Indian cuisines, these greens have flown under the radar. But don’t underestimate them. They will add a nice peppery punch to any dish!


Xuelihong is a great ingredient for soups and stews, and are incredibly delicious when pickled and used as a topping. Pickled xuelihong also pairs really well with fish. 

 

What Is the Difference Between Mustard Greens and Xuelihong?

Xuelihong is simply a type of mustard greens. It has serrated leaves that are slightly different from the leaves of typical mustard plants. The leaves are more narrow and less full than regular mustard greens. 


But the looks of the plant are just the beginning of their differences. 


Xuelihong is a fantastic variety that carries more aroma and a greater amount of that pleasant bitterness than regular mustard greens. It is well-known for their peppery flavor that goes deeper than other greens that are similar to them.  

 

Can You Eat Xuelihong Raw?

You could eat Xuelihong raw. They are perfectly delicious when put in a salad or other dish that doesn’t require cooking. They’re a lot like spinach or kale in this respect. However, many people prefer to eat them sauteed because of the new flavors that cooking brings out.


If you prefer raw veggies to cooked ones there are a few routes you could go. Of course, you could always add some greens to your smoothie to pack it with some extra nutrients. 


You could also chop up some Xuelihong and put it in a salad with other healthy greens like spinach. Xuelihong pairs well with other greens and doesn't overwhelm in flavor. 


And instead of bread for your sandwich, try wrapping your meat, cheese, and condiments in some xuelihong.  

 

How Do You Prepare Xuelihong?

Xuelihong can be prepared in a variety of ways. One of the primary methods is pickling. When pickled with the acidity of the vinegar, the slightly bitter taste in these leaves is reduced, leaving behind a lighter taste that is still accompanied by that iconic peppery aroma. 


These pickled leaves are commonly served as a garnish or topping to a dish. But Xuelihong can also be cooked. You can sauté them on their own, add them to a meaty stew, or even just steam them for a quick and easy green boost to your meal. 


In fact, stir fried xuelihong is probably the best way to go. The ingredients the greens are stir-fried with lightens the bitter flavors and makes for a more savory and delicious dish. 


Here are some steps you need to know in order to prepare this Chinese winter vegetable in your own home. 

 

Wash Your Greens

First thing’s first, you’ve gotta give your vegetables a good rinse. This is true for any vegetable you buy, and mustard greens are no exception. 


You should know that these greens aren’t the target of any pests naturally, so pesticides aren’t commonly used when farming them.


But even though there most likely aren’t any harmful pesticides on your xuelihong, it’s still a good idea to always wash your produce to get off any excess dirt or debris that may have gotten caught between the various parts of the plant. 


To wash your xuelihong, get a bowl full of cold water and simply give them a bath, using your fingers to get between the leaves and get any debris out. After they’re all clean, dry them in a salad spinner if you have one, or give them a good shake and gently pat them dry with some paper towels. 

 

Cut Off Any Tough Stems

Although the stems of xuelihong are edible, you might find that some of the stems are extra tough and can be difficult to chew once cooked. Before you prep them, just take some time to look through your leaves and cut out any of those tough stems. 


Again, these stems are totally edible, but if you remove the tough bits, it will give you an extra crunch. 


So just give your leaves and stems a quick look, and feel along the edges of the stems to make sure there isn’t any excessive roughness or toughness to the stems. 

 

Separate the Leaves

Next, separate the leaves from the main stalk. Keep the leaves attached to their individual stalks. This step is just to separate each individual stalk from the bunch. An easy way to do it is to just cut off the base of the stalk (like with celery). 


Once they’re separated, it’s a good idea to double check for any dirt or debris you might have missed and rinse a leaf or two again if necessary.

 

Cut to Desired Size

After that, you can cut the leaves to the size you want. If you’re going to cook them to be a side dish or to stir-fry with a bunch of other veggies, it’s best to cut them into bite-sized pieces.


It isn’t super important to be very accurate with this step. All of the leaves are going to shrink with cooking anyway, so just give your greens a rough chop to make sure they’re at least close to bite-sized pieces, and you should be good to go.

 

Use Preferred Cooking Method

After that, you’re ready to cook! Xuelihong can be cooked in various ways, so feel free to do whatever suits your preference. They can be boiled, steamed, sautéed, and stir-fried. 


These greens cook very quickly, like any other leafy green, making them a great last-minute addition to a meal that needs a little bit more vegetables in it. But you’re also going to want to make sure you watch them closely so that you don’t overcook them!


How Do I Make Stir-Fry with Xuelihong?

One of the more popular methods of cooking xuelihong is by making a stir fry out of it. This dish can be spicy and garlicky, and can be a delicious side dish that you’ll want to make again and again. Here’s how to make it!


Wash and Prep Your Greens

First, wash and prep your greens. Give them a good bath, remove the tough parts of the stems, separate each stem from the stalk, and cut them to the size you want. For this application, bite-sized pieces are good, but you can go a little bit bigger if you want! 


The xuelihong will wilt a good amount once it’s exposed to the heat. 

 

Add Oil to a Wok and Heat It

Always heat your oil before adding any other ingredients. This will ensure an even cook and a standard cook time. You can know your oil is heated once it has a nice shimmery look and it has become less dense and more slick. 


Also, use a wok if you have it! A great wok or stir-fry pan has a nice rounded bottom, so they are great for tossing your ingredients in oil for an even cook.

 

Add Garlic and Desired Seasonings

After your oil is heated, it’s time to add your seasonings. What dish is complete without a little bit of garlic (or a lot)? 


At this point, you can add any seasonings you like. Red chili peppers are a great addition, but you can also add ginger, shallots, and onions and give them a quick fry. 


Cook these until fragrant, and make sure that you don’t overcook the garlic. It should not get crispy and brown, just a light roast, so make sure you keep an eye on it. 

 

Add Xuelihong, Sesame Oil, Sugar, and Salt

Finally, add your xuelihong and sesame oil for toastiness, some sugar or honey for a bit of sweetness, and salt to enhance the flavors of the dish. You can even add soy sauce instead of salt for a rich umami taste. All of these flavors working together will help make your dish incredible!


Stir Frequently

If you’re working with a wok, you can simply toss your greens continuously. But if you just have a regular pan or cast-iron skillet, keep the greens moving and incorporate all of the seasonings into the leaves for a nice even, unified flavor profile across the whole dish. 


This process shouldn’t take too long. You should only cook everything until the leaves are wilted, which should only take a few minutes. 


Once the leaves are wilted and all the flavors are evenly incorporated, plate it up and serve it right away while the dish is still hot. This should probably be the last dish you make before serving your meal. Serve it alongside some crispy tofu and rice for an amazing, healthy vegan meal that is packed with flavor.

 

Is Xuelihong Healthy?

Mustard greens are very good for you, as are any of the leafy greens out there. They’re high in vitamin C, a helpful antioxidant that can help your body eliminate free radicals. 


Mustard greens are absolutely loaded with vitamins and minerals. Mustard leaves are also rich in fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin K. As far as minerals go, Xuelihong contains copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. 


In addition, the cooking process works to soften the leaves, making it easier for your body to digest. So if you’re looking to make your greens extra healthy, give them a quick stir-fry!

 

Are There Different Types of Xuelihong?

There aren’t any different varieties of xuelihong, but it does have some close relatives that are very similar to it. Green mustard cabbage is closely related. And gai choy is another type of Chinese mustard plant that is quite similar. 


Mizuna is a Japanese mustard plant that greatly resembles xuelihong, and takana is a pickled Japanese mustard plant. The techniques of cooking, pickling, and preparing them are quite similar between Japan and China. 


Tong hao is another Asian green whose taste greatly resembles the xuelihong with a bitter and peppery flavor.


Conclusion

Xuelihong is a delicious Chinese vegetable. It hasn’t boomed in popularity quite like other leafy greens like kale, but xuelihong’s time will come. Its lovely pepperiness and excellent mustard flavor make it an incredible ingredient to incorporate into your cooking. 


If you want pickled Xuelihong or other unique Asian ingredients, check out Umamicart today!


Sources:

Eating Defensively | The Nutrition and Food Safety Benefits of Cooked Produce | IFAS Extension, University of Florida 

Mustard greens, raw nutrition facts and analysis | Nutrition Value 

My favorite Chinese vegetable: Xue Li Hong (雪里红) | Juling’s Family Kitchen 

Real Food Encyclopedia | Mustard Greens | Food Print 

More Recipes!