Chinese Broccoli aka Gai Lan
I love gai lan aka Chinese broccoli.
As a Chinese person it’s essentially an everyday vegetable. Most home style Chinese meals consist of two or three dishes served with rice and almost always one of the vegetables dishes will inevitably be gai lan.
It’s most often stir fried with garlic or quickly blanched and served with oyster sauce. Like broccoli it’s incredibly versatile and hearty – you can basically substitute it anywhere you have broccoli or kale.
What is Chinese broccoli
Gai lan, kai lan, Chinese broccoli, or Chinese kale, is a leafy green vegetable with thickish stems and small florets. It belongs to the cabbage group and tastes kind of like broccoli.
If you’ve had broccolini, it’s very similar because broccolini is a hybrid between broccoli and gai lan. Gai lan is truly one of the most popular Chinese vegetable dishes.
How to choose gai lan
There are two types of gai lan: regular and baby. Regular gai lan is larger, older, and a bit more tough. Baby gai lan is more tender and young. Sometimes you’ll see baby gai lan called mini gai lan or gai lan junior. I almost always choose to buy baby gai lan when I see it because it tends to be more tender and tasty than regular.
Gai lan doesn’t have a season as it’s available all year round, which is probably why it’s so popular. Gai lan is available at all Asian grocery stores and sometimes even at regular ones. When picking out bunches of gai lan, look for stalks that are a deep green without an abundance of yellow leaves or flowers (gai lan starts to flower when it’s old).
How to prepare gai lan
It’s super easy to prepare gai lan, all you need to do is wash and trim. Give it a good soak and wash, then trim the stems. That’s it!
How to cook Chinese broccoli
There are two basic ways to cook gai lan: stir fried and blanched. Typically stir fried gai lan is made with a clear garlic sauce and blanched is served with oyster sauce.
Chinese broccoli with garlic sauce
- Make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together some soy sauce, corn starch, chicken stock (or water), toasted sesame oil, and shaoxing wine.
- Stir fry the garlic and ginger: Heat a bit of oil in a wok or large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until soft but not brown.
- Cook the gai lan: Add the gai lan to the pan and cook for 2-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until bright green and tender.
- Sauce it up: Add the prepared sauce to the pan and cook, until the sauce thickens a bit. Remove from the pan and enjoy!
Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce
- Make the sauce: In a small pan, add a bit of oil and cook the garlic and ginger until soft but not brown. Stir in oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine, and toasted sesame oil. Remove from the heat and set it aside.
- Cook the gai lan: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt to the pot. Add the gailan and cook for 2-4 minutes, until bright green and tender.
- Serve: Drain well and serve with the sauce drizzled on top.
What is oyster sauce?
Oyster sauce is a thick savory sauce with a hint of caramel sweetness and umami. It can be found in the Asian aisle of any grocery store. If you see the Lee Kum Kee bottle with the two people in boats, go for that one. It’s the premium oyster sauce which lists oysters as its first ingredient, unlike the one with the red panda label which has oysters listed further down the list.
What to serve with Chinese broccoli
Make a home style Chinese feast!
Chinese Broccoli Recipe
How to make perfect Chinese broccoli aka gai lan two ways
Stir Fried Gai Lan with Garlic Sauce
- In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken stock (or water or vegetable sauce), soy sauce, corn starch, Shaoxing wine, and toasted sesame oil. Set aside.
- In a wok or large pan, heat up the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until soft but not brown.
- Turn the heat up to medium high and add the gai lan to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the gai lan is bright green and tender-crisp, about 2-4 minutes depending on size.
- Add the prepared sauce to the pan and let it come to a simmer and reduce slightly.
Blanched Gai Lan with Oyster Sauce
The oyster sauce version contains 100mg more sodium and 1g more carb(sugar) per serving than shown, otherwise estimated nutrition is the same for both versions.
Chinese Broccoli Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 160 Calories from Fat 94
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 1.2g8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.