Recipe: Kiam Chai Boey (Mustard Green and Tamarind stew)

As the weather turns chillier, I find myself craving the warmth of the broths and stews from my childhood. This Nyonya Kiam Chai Boey is right at the top of the list. Literally meaning ‘leftovers’, my family would always cook up this dish the day after a celebratory dinner, using up all the excess roast meat from the night before to avoid any of it going to waste. The wonderful tamarind broth, a delicate balance of sour, sweet, savoury and spicy can completely transform the texture and flavour of roast meats that are past their best.

Although traditional, the addition of roast meat is not essential – the aromatic broth with the mustard greens, pork ribs and other spices alone is worth the effort. Serve this alone with a generous helping of steamed rice or as an accompaniment to larger feast!



Ingredients (serves 8 as a shared dish)

  • 2 litres of water
  • 750g Pork Ribs – blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes to remove excess fat

Vegetables and aromats:

  • 2 turnips, cut into large chunks
  • 2 large carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 3 thumb-nail slices of ginger, smashed skin-on
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 8 cloves of garlic, cloves smashed
  • 4 tomatoes, quartered
  • 5 sticks lemongrass, smashed
  • 3 fresh red chillies
  • 10 dried chillies, soaked and deseeded
  • 20 black peppercorns, smashed

Mustard greens, mushrooms & leftover roast meat:

  • 400g Mustard Greens (‘Koo Chai’ / ‘Gai Choy’), stalks cut into bite sized pieces, leaves shredded into 2 cm strips
  • Preserved Mustard greens (1 pack, roughly 280g)
  • 1 handful dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked/rehydrated in hot water
  • Optional: 300g leftover cooked roast meat (e.g. roast pork or roast duck)


  • 6 dried tamarind slices (Asam gelugor)
  • 1 ½ to 2 tbsp tamarind paste (to taste)
  • 3 to 4 tbsp rock sugar (to taste)
  • Large pinch salt (about 3 – 4 tsp to taste)
  • 3 to 4 tbsp soya Sauce (to taste)


  1. Fill a large stock pot with 2 litres of water. Add blanched pork ribs, bring to a boil & skim off any impurities. Reduce to a simmer and cook the pork ribs for 45 minutes.
  1. Add the seasonings, vegetables and aromats to the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  1. Add the leftover roast meat, mushrooms & mustard leave stalks first. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the mustard green leaves. Simmer for another 25 – 30 minutes until everything is tender and broth is flavorful. Adjust the seasoning to taste.