The Chinese New Year festivities would not be complete without this much awaited dish called Chai Boey which literally means leftovers. This is a tangy dish of mustard greens boiled with leftover meats and vegetables, popularly known as Chop Suey in our family. There is no specific recipe and the taste differs each time depending on what is leftover from the feasts of the previous days. While some families will dump in all their leftovers, Mom is more selective in what she puts into this dish. Siew Yoke (Roast Pork Belly) is a must as it provides the fat to moisten the mustard greens. The only other leftover she will include is the Jiu Hu Char from which my Warm Jicama and Cabbage Salad is based on. Instead of shrimps, Jiu Hu Char has pork, cuttlefish, and mushrooms in it.
Although we call this dish Chop Suey, it is not to be mistaken for the version found here in the US. The idea however, is similar in that a mixture of ingredients is used. Chop Suey as known here is cooked with meats, celery, cabbage, bean sprouts, and noodles in a starch-thickened sauce typically served with rice. Chai Boey on the other hand is more soupy, tangy, and spicy.
Pickled mustard greens (kiam chai) are sold in plastic packages. Tamarind slices are a little more difficult to find here but it can be substituted with tamarind paste or lime juice.
Mustard greens, on the other hand, can be easily found at the Asian grocery stores. These leafy green vegetables have a peppery taste and can stand up to being boiled without breaking down too much.
This recipe is very forgiving and the ingredients listed here are more of a guide. Please adjust accordingly. If you cannot get some of the ingredients, please refer to the notes at the end of this post. I have cook this successfully with various substitutions.
Delicious on its own or with a steaming bowl of white rice.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎