Mustard Gai Choy is a heading form of mustard, a specialty vegetable known as Gai Cai in Asia.
This cultivar is an heirloom variety from South China much prized for its mild but distinctive flavour. It shares the ridged leaves and curved growth habit of the large Gai Choy, but is looser, longer, greener and the ridges are less pronounced. It goes by a number of names throughout Asia, but is most often known as 'Sher-Li-Hon'.
If you find Gai Choy too pungent, Sher-Li-Hon is quite a bit milder and more tender and is excellent for soup and stir fry’s, particularly with pork or chicken.
Sher-Li-Hon greens are tasty, sweet and suitable anywhere you'd like a more tender green with a less assertive flavour than regular mustard or even Asian mustard greens. They are less bitter than kale or collard greens with a mild peppery flavour similar to rocket (arugula).
Both the stems and leaves are edible raw or cooked. Be careful not to overcook, the stems should retain some crunch. If slow-cooked, it will become meltingly tender, like collards or mustard greens, but will keep its mild pepper taste.
Sher-Li-Hon mature quickly but are prone to bolt quickly in summer, so autumn and early spring crops under protection are most effective. Commonly called Green in the Snow, the plants are as cold resilient as it sounds. This fast growing variety can be picked for eating use 30 days after sowing or left to mature for 75 days. Plants are strong and resistant to frost, heat, rain and disease.
Mustard grows best in a sunny position in a fertile soil. It can be sown directly into open ground or can be planted into grow bags. If grown for babyleaf it can be sown into small containers or even windowboxes. Choose a well-drained container that's at least 10 to 15cm (4 to 6in) deep. Containers may need to be watered a couple times a day when temperatures begin to warm. If growing micro-greens, seeds can be planted in shallow flats and harvested about 10 to 21 days after planting. If given adequate light, they can also be grown indoors during the winter.
Sowing: Sow under cover February to May or sow direct April to October
Mustard seeds can be sown practically year round. Plant little and often, every two weeks for continuous supply. Seeds germinate in 5 to 10 days at temperatures between 7 to 30°C (45 to 85°F)
Sow sparingly in shallow drills 6 to 12mm (¼ to ½ in) deep. Space seeds 2.5cm (1in) apart for cut-and-come-again salad or 20 to 25cm (8 to 10in) for whole plant production. Adequate spacing is most important when growing plants to full size. This is easy to accomplish by simply thinning plants as they begin to get crowded in the garden.
Mustard greens are primarily a cool season vegetable and are at their peak in late spring to early summer. Keep well watered especially in summer. Hot weather causes the plants to bolt and their greens to turn unpleasantly bitter.
An autumn crop is often planted because mustard is frost-resistant and easily overwinters in temperate areas. Protect late sowings with cloches and the plants will keep growing throughout the winter and continue to grow vigorously when temperatures warm and daylight increases.
Harvesting: 20 days for babyleaf, 45 days to maturity
Mustard plants can be harvested for baby leaf once the leaves are 5cm (2in) tall. For milder leaves, pick young, they are best cropped at around 15cm (6in) for salads.
The plants will grow to around 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) tall. Mature leaves can be boiled or steamed or braised in a pot with a little butter and garlic.
Use scissors or a knife rather than pulling the leaves to avoid damaging the plant. Keep picking regularly to prevent flowers running to seed. Pull and compost the plants once hot weather arrives in the summer, as mustard greens become tough and bitter.
Mustard greens are equally at home raw, cooked and even fermented and pickled. Young leaves can be tossed into summer salads; their peppery bite adds a sharp note with more mild lettuces.
Older, larger mustard greens are better cooked. As with most oriental brassicas, the mustard flavours strengthen slightly with age but cooking has the opposite effect and reduces any pungency. Because mustard greens are more tender than their leafy-green Brassica family members collards and turnip greens, they need far less time to cook.
Store unwashed greens in plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. They will keep for about three days after harvesting. Wrap in moist paper towels for longer storage, up to five days. The flavour may intensify in the refrigerator during the longer five-day storage.
Mustard has been cultivated for centuries across Asia and Europe for both its edible seeds, ground and made into mustard (the condiment) or pressed for their oil along with its leaves (and even stems). Mustard is member of the impressive Brassica family which includes cabbage, collards, bok choy, kale and radishes.
There are several different types of mustard, some of which are native to central Asia, probably somewhere in the Himalayan region and some that are native to Europe.
Mustard Gai Choy is commonly called Sher-Li-Hon or Shi-li-hon. It is occasionally simply referred to as Green in Snow or Moutarde de Chine.
In Asia this vegetable is known as:
China: Hsueh li hung, Kaai tsai, Shuerifong, Suae li hong, Taai kaai tsai, Xue li hong, Ye yong jie cai
Indonesia: Moster, Sawi hijau, Sesawi
Japan: Ha karashina, Setsu ri kon
Malaysia: Sawi, Sawi pahit, Sawi sawi
Sri Lanka: Aba kola
Thailand: Pak guang tong, Phakkaat khieo
Vietnam: Cai xanh
- Additional Information
Packet Size 200mg Average Seed Count 100 Pelleted seeds Seed Form Untreated pelleted seeds. Seeds per gram 500 seeds per gram Common Name Heading Mustard, Gai Cai, Kai Choy Other Common Names Mustard Greens, Green in the Snow Other Language Names Gai Choy or Takana Family Brassicaceae Genus Brassica Species juncea var. multiceps Cultivar Sher-Li-Hon Hardiness Hardy Annual Height 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) Position Full sun or partial shade. Time to Sow Under cover February to May or sow direct April to October Time to Harvest 20 days for babyleaf, 45 days to maturity