Preserved Mustard Stem Fried Rice with Cekur Leaves (Chinese Ginger)

written by Sarah Michael Griffin November 9, 2017

This recipe came up into my mind in a whim, while wondering what to have for lunch while my friend visiting. After a day spent going through old antique materials lying in my house, and having a flash back  to days of my grandmother who loves doing everything from scratch and never leave anything to waste. I decided to give a twist to the leftover rice in the refrigerator into something from the past- which is my grandmother’s beloved ingredient, and something from the present, mine-something herbish.

Reminiscing my late grandma’s cooking. One of her favourite ingredient back then is the ‘Preserved Mustard Stems ‘ -salty, spicy & crunchy.  She loves adding them in soups or else makes a simple stir fry out of it. Known as Za Chai among the Chinese community, it is made out of the knobbly part of the mustard plant’s stem. It is first salted, then pressed to remove the excess water that comes out from it. Dried and then later to rub it in hot chili paste and left to ferment in an earthen jar or clay jar.

As for me, I love herbs. In this recipe, I have added ‘Cekur’, also known as Finger Root in English, Lesser Galangal or Chinese Ginger. Harvested freshly from my kitchen garden. Used in Chinese and Thai medicine, in Indonesia known as ‘Kencur’ used in jamus. The Malays’ uses it in their ‘Nasi Ulam’ -shredded thinly. It is also known to have larvacidal properties which benefits as an insecticide, especially in killing mosquitoes.

How To Make Preserved Mustard Stem Fried Rice with Cekur Leaves ( Chinese Ginger)

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Serves: 2 Prep Time: Cooking Time:


  • - Leftover Rice ( approximately for 2 people)
  • - 1 Carrot, small sized (approximately 6 inches) Cubed into tiny pieces
  • - 1 Handful of Ikan Bilis (Dried Anchovies)
  • - 7-8 Cloves of Garlic. ( You can opt to reduce the number of garlic used if you find it too strong for your taste)
  • - 3 Slices of Chinese Preserved Mustard Stem, Cubed into same size as the carrots
  • - 5 Leaves of Cekur ( Chinese Ginger, Finger Root, Lesser Galangal), shredded roughly
  • - 2 Tbsp Korean Chili Paste ( Gochujang), a little water was added to make it into a smooth paste
  • - 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil ( mixed with the Chili Paste)
  • - A pinch or two of Vegetable Seasoning powder, ( other options: mushroom or chicken stock powder)
  • - 4 Tbsp of Coconut Oil



Clockwise, from top left: leftover-rice, cubed carrots, slices of Chinese preserved mustard stem, peeled garlic cloves, cekur leaves, mixed paste of gochujang and sesame oil with a little water, dried anchovies

  1. Heat up 4 Tbsp of coconut oil under high heat, and then fry the dried anchovies till crispy and golden. Remove from wok, and set it aside on a plate layered with kitchen towel ( to absorb off the oil)
  2. Remove the oil from the wok till only left with 2 Tbsp, stir-fry the garlic under medium heat up to 1-2 minutes till it turns slightly golden
  3. Add in cubed carrots and fry it up till it softens slightly, left with a little crunch
  4. Add in the cubed preserved mustard stem next, and fry for approximately 2-3 minutes
  5. Pour in the mixed Korean Chili Paste with Sesame Oil and keep stirring till it starts bubbling
  6. Add in the Vegetable Seasoning and mix well
  7.  Add in the rice and stir up until everything is evenly mixed and the rice starts giving some crackling or popping sound ( a good way to find out if your fried rice is good to go).  A word of caution: The rice should be fried for few minutes, the popping should happen between that time, do not burn the rice.
  8. Walla! Pipping hot fried rice is ready to be garnished
  9. Dish up the fried rice on each plate, then top it up with the shredded cekur leaves and fried anchovies evenly among the two plate.
  10. Now the aromatic fried rice is ready to be dug-in with your loved one.

Scrumptious Hot Meal Ready To Be Served


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