Ham Choi Soup

I had problems trying to shoot this bowl of soup without making it look so…..for lack of a better word….’peasant-y’, but I gave up after changing props a few times and decided that if this is how it should look, then it’s how it should be. Ham Choi literally means ‘salty vege’ but in Hokkien, my mom calls this ‘Chau Chai’. This is really a nostalgic soup and the ‘instant’ soup of my days. I hardly make this when I’m here in KL mainly because I’m lazy to do the pre-prep thing. ‘Ham Choi’ is a rather generic term because there are different kinds of salted vegetables. This dish uses ‘ham choi’ that looks more like this in its entirety (below);

To make this soup, we prefer to grind the ‘ham choi‘ up into very fine bits. A normal food processor doesn’t achieve that. What my mom does is when she goes to the market, she asks the pork seller to use his fine mincer (the one that uses the hand-crank) to do the job. For hygiene purpose, she purchases some pork first, grinds that pork up and then grinds the ‘ham choi‘ next. The ‘ham choi‘ get’s mixed with bits of pork but nothing wrong with that, just adds more flavour.

Then she brings the ‘ham choi‘ home and wok-fry it without any oil (like dry frying) with a little salt till it’s really dry and dehydrated, the colour also changes and it becomes darker. Doing this method just ensures the vege lasts longer in the fridge and also it brings out the intense sour flavour, I think.

Just store them in containers and when you’re ready to make a quick soup just add few more of these ingredients and you’re good to go.

If you find the sourness of the soup not up to your liking (like me) I always like to add the juice of 1 or 2 calamansi limes. My husband doesn’t like it to be too sour so I squeeze the juice out into my own individual bowl.

 A Calamansi lime



Ham choi (prepped as described)
Chopped garlic
1 tomato, cut into wedges
1 egg, beaten (optional)
White pepper
Tiny bit of sunflower oil
Chicken stock/ water + chicken stock cube
Calamansi lime, juice


1. In a pot, heat the oil and stir-fry the garlic for few seconds till it’s fragrant.
2. Add your ham choi and stir fry it around to mix thoroughly with the garlic.
3. Add chicken stock or water till well-covered. If using water, use some stock cube because it might be a bit bland.
4. Sprinkle white pepper and let it come to a boil.
5. When it has come to a boil, add your tomato wedges and let it simmer for 30 – 45 mins.

6. Taste and see if you’re okay with the seasoning and saltiness.
7. Pour in beaten egg all over the soup but don’t swirl it.
8. Taste the sourness, if you like it, leave it…if not, squeeze some calamansi lime juice into the soup.


PS: The remnants of this soup was also used in a dish called ‘hungan’, I posted about this during CNY. We’d strain the soup and then use the soup to cook this noodle dish (below).

On another side note, this came in the mail last Saturday… 🙂 My prize for a giveaway participating in Aspiring Bakers #15 hosted by Wen’s Delight. Thanks Wen, for the calendar! 

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6 Responses to “Ham Choi Soup”

  1. I like the “peasanty” look of the soup! And I love ham-choi too, although I’ve never cooked with it before because I simply don’t know which one to buy! And I don’t know whether to soak it or wash it or do what with it…haha… I wish I could make this though, I miss eating ham-choi. I need to visit the asian grocery again and see if I can make out all the different types of ham-choi! (they all look the same to me!)

  2. wendyywy says:

    My hubby hates ham choi.
    In my hometown, we call this “local ham choi” and the thick stemmed ones as China Ham Choy. Dunno how it’s called elsewhere.
    Oh, I never knew need to dry fry it, I just chuck them in after finely chopping them. Next time I try it this way.

    BTW… if ur mom uses the pork to “wash” the grinder.. then the pork … err , how? Eat or discard?

    • Sharon says:

      eat lah of course….actually i think it was more if she wanted the pork seller to do her the favour of grinding the ham choi up, she has to buy pork from him lah…

  3. floyoke says:

    Thanks…. I’m 65 & this is he first time I come to know of this prep for the ham choi. I was going to cook pork ribs + ham choi soup & decided to search the web for new ways of boiling it. I’m going now to have my ham choi chopped up & prepared yr way.

    Btw what clan do u come from?… It must be yr clan’s way of preparing ham choi this way

    Wendy, we here also call it local(poon teh} & China (Tong San) ham choi! 🙂

    Thanks again I’m a ham choi lover!

    • Sharon says:

      Hi, Floyoke….I am a Foochow though I can’t say strictly this is my clan’s method of cooking the ham choi, but we do use ham choi in ‘hoongan’ which is a very foochow dish. This soup is just something my mother made up and it stayed with me ever since.

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