April 22, 2013

Chinese Hua Gua Pickles 花瓜

Chinese Hua Gua Pickles 花瓜

chinese, hua gua, pickle, soy sauce, cucumber
By Published: 2013-04-22
This chinese Hua Gua pickle is just so easy and delicious that it's ridiculous.  Inspired by the success with our chinese vinegar pickle I was gripped with a nostalgia for the Hua Gua pickles, 花瓜 or 醬瓜,  of my childhood.  These are delightfully crunchy Taiwanese soy sauce pickled cucumbers that Mom bought in little glass jars to go with our congee.  It was such a tasty treat that we used to fight over these little suckers when the Grandma and Mom weren't looking.  There was never enough to go around with three hungry little chinese girls and just a little tiny jar of pickles.  And, just to be clear, hungry little chinese girls can eat alot of food!  Well, now all these years later I have discovered that, as I mentioned earlier, these pickles are just ridiculously easy to make and taste just like the (actually better!) store bought kind (minus the yummy (not!) flavours of chemical preservatives of course.)

chinese, hua gua, pickle, soy sauce, cucumber

Here is my beautiful jar of Hua Gua pickles after a day or two in the fridge.  I couldn't believe how good these little guys tasted!  And the crunch!  Where does that beautiful crunch come from?

chinese, hua gua, pickle, soy sauce, cucumber, licorice root

This is a photo of dried licorice root , or 甘草, which you can get from any chinese pharmacy store, you know the ones with all the dried weird looking things inside like dried fish innards, seahorses and deer antlers.  Just ask them for a handful of the stuff and they will weigh it out for you.

chinese, hua gua, pickle, soy sauce, cucumber

Use a good cucumber like the japanese cucumber or english cucumber.  When choosing the cuke, press gently.  The firmer the cucumber the better, it should be really hard! (sorry, couldn't help that)  And get yourself some really good soy sauce already! (In others words soy sauce without MSG).

Update:  My mom tried this recipe (finally) and gave it a two thumbs up!!  She's made two batches already in around three days.  And my mom should know about Hua Gua pickles since she grew up in Taiwan!

Chinese Hua Gua Pickles Recipe
(Recipe from Madame Huang's Kitchen, thanks Madame Huang!)

Glass Jar for pickling


4 japanese cucumbers
5 tbsp soy sauce
2 1/2 tbsp sugar (we use raw sugar)
2 1/2 tbsp of rice vinegar
2 pieces dried licorice root


Clean the cucumber thoroughly.  (We soak for 10  minutes in water with 1 tsp of white vinegar)  Cut off tips and slice into 1/4 inch rounds.  Put cucumbers and all other ingredients into a small pot.

Bring to boil and let cook for one minute.  Turn off heat and let cool.  When cool pour everything into a jar, making sure the cucumbers are immersed into the marinade.  Put in fridge and ready to eat the next day.  Use clean utensils to pick out the pickles and enjoy!  Store in the fridge.

This pickle goes great with congee!  See our delicious Chinese Congee recipe.

More Chinese recipes at The Hong Kong Cookery:

chinese, congee, rice porridge, recipeChinese Congee 粥

Chinese Spiced Beef Shin 滷牛腱Chinese Spiced Beef Shin 滷牛腱

chinese pickles recipeChinese Pickles 酸瓜


  1. Thank you! I've been looking for a recipe for these pickles for years... I can't wait to try them.

    1. I hope that you like the pickles! Watch out, though, they can get addictive!

    2. Love the recipes and the info and story that goes with them.

  2. Am I missing something? I don't see any water? How to bring everything to a boil with only 4 tbsp soy sauce and 2 tbsp vinegar?

    1. Hi Jackie - no water needed, just 5 tbsp soy sauce and 2.5 of vinegar is needed because the boiling time is so short. It works, trust me, we make this all the time! Just use a small pot. ~ellen

  3. It tasted great! I am ready to make some more. Is it possible to reuse the soy sauce? Seems such a waste to throw it all away.

    1. Hi Jackie - so glad you liked them! I totally agree it seems wasteful to throw out the sauce so I usually reuse it a couple of times. I just add a bit more of the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar (following approx to the recipe proportions) to the pickle sauce and then follow the recipe. That way I can have these delious pickles in my fridge all the time! ~ellen


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