Simple Fermented Bok Choy Recipe

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This method of fermentation has been used for centuries. You can use it with any vegetable and it will keep for months — but I prefer the pickle fairly fresh, at about 4-6 days old. I have loosely based this recipe on the Nepalese version; try it in a vegie burger with some grilled eggplant (aubergine) and haloumi cheese.

Region: Nepal
Makes: 2 x 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cup) jars
Preparation: 15 minutes + 1 hour salting + 4-6 days fermenting
Difficulty: Easy


  • 450 g (1 lb) bok choy (pak choy), washed thoroughly and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt fresh or dried hot chillies, to taste


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a crockpot or food-grade bucket, making sure the salt is distributed evenly.
  2. Press the mixture down with your fist, then set aside for 1 hour, or until the salt has drawn out enough moisture to submerge the vegies in the brine.
  3. If not enough moisture is drawn out, add enough water to almost cover the vegies.
  4. Cover the mixture with a non-metallic plate. Place some tins of food on top of the plate, to press the mixture down, ensuring no metal comes in contact with it.
  5. Cover the crock or bucket with a clean T-shirt or cloth, then tie some kitchen string around the fabric to secure it in place.
  6. Press the mixture down once a day, and check the flavor every day until it tastes sour enough to you; for me this is usually 4-6 days.
  7. At this point, transfer the mixture to sterilised glass jars, seal and refrigerate. The vegies will keep in the fridge for up to 2 months.

Tip: Instead of bok choy, you can also try fermenting vegetables such as cabbage, radish, daikon, kohl rabi and leafy Asian greens.

Also from Lands of the Curry Leaf:

Acclaimed chef, author and TV presenter Peter Kuruvita shares over 100 vegetarian and vegan recipes that take us on a culinary journey of discovery through the subcontinent — from Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and his home country of Sri Lanka. All the dishes in this deeply personal collection, spiced with the flavours of Peter’s life and travels, reflect the diversity of the regions, their legendary hospitality, their energy and excitement, extraordinary landscapes and rich history. Peter explores a goldmine of plant-based flavours in recipes for street foods; pulses and legumes; salads; dairy-based dishes; curries, stir-fries and stews; rice; soups; chutneys; and sauces. This book is a reflection of the changing dialogue about what we eat, as the world embraces the idea of a meal where flesh is not the main event.

Reprinted with permission from Lands of the Curry Leaf: A Vegetarian Food Journey from Sri Lanka to Nepal by Peter Kuruvita and published by Murdoch Books, 2019.

Inspiration for edible alchemy.