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A Go-To Veggie Side Dish
Could greens really be this good?? Every time I eat this dish I am surprised how much I am enjoying a plate of green vegetables. The combination of gai lan (aka Chinese broccoli) and savoury oyster sauce is a match made in heaven and a classic for a reason.
You might be familiar with a Chinese restaurant dish with long stems of steamed gai lan on a plate with oyster sauce drizzled on top, and this is a similar idea except BETTER! It's all cut up so you don't have to try to eat whole stems of gai lan while trying to be graceful about it (it doesn't happen). And because it's stir-fried, the flavours of the sauce are absorbed into the vegetables making them extra flavourful. Not the mention the soft, chunky garlic pieces, those are the cherry on the sundae!
Preventing Chewy Gai Lan
Chinese broccoli, especially older ones, can be chewy, but this isn't a problem if you know how to deal with them. As shown in the video, you want to make sure you slice any thick stems thinly (on a bias so you still get nice large pieces) and then you won't need to peel the stems as some people might do.
For the leaves, make sure you only cook them until they're wilted and remove them from the heat immediately. Cooking gai lan for a long time tends to make leaves that are super wilty and chewy.
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Gai Lan Oyster Sauce Stir-Fry (Chinese Broccoli)
- Yield: 3-4 servings
- 300g gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
- 6-7 cloves garlic
- Optional: 1-2 Thai chilies if you want it spicy
- 1½ Tbsp oyster sauce (use good quality oyster sauce that lists "oyster extract" as the first ingredient)
- ½ Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp water
- ½ tsp sugar
- ¼-½ teaspoon ground white or black pepper, or to taste
- Jasmine rice for serving
Note: I think broccolini would make a good sub for gai lan. I would cut the stems in half lengthwise, then again horizontally in half so they cook fast in the wok.
- Cut thick gailan stems on a sharp bias into thin slices. Thinner stems can be chopped into 2-inch pieces. Once you get to the leaves, cut them into bite-sized chunks. Keep the stems and leaves separated.
- If using chilies, pound them into a paste using a mortar and pestle. Then add garlic and pound just until they look "shredded" (see video). You can also just roughly chop garlic and chilies.
- In a small bowl, combine oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and water; stir to mix.
- In a wok, fry the garlic in a little oil over medium-low heat for a minute or so until light golden. Don't use high heat as you want the garlic to have time to soften and infuse the flavour into the oil.
- Add gai lan stems, turn heat up to medium and cook for about 30-45 seconds.
- Turn the heat up to high, then immediately add gai lan leaves, the sauce, white pepper, and cook for only about 30-45 seconds. Remove from heat immediately once the leaves look mostly wilted. Do not overcook, the residual heat will wilt the leaves further, and the leaves also get chewy when cooked too much.
- Serve immediately with jasmine rice. Enjoy!
This amount is good enough for 4 just as a side dish, but will serve 2-3 if you want to eat it as one of the main things.
Made this tonight over jasmine rice and it was AMAZING. So simple, yet so delicious. BOTH of my twins loved it. That almost never happens : )
Didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, so made this substituting bok choy, and then Golden Mountain sauce (for the soy sauce). Absolutely delicious!
This is the first time I have cooked a vegetable with the coarsely pounded shards of garlic. To be honest, I was afraid my partner would see them and be shocked. but cooked this way they are tender and sweet. Thanks again for another great cooking skill!
Made this last night and it came out TERRIFIC. Thanks for the tip on not overcooking the leaves!
I am going to make Pad Mama today, I was going to substitute the cabbage with Gai Lan. Will this recipe do well and add it at the very end of the Pad Mama process?
Just made this and it’s delicious! I wouldn’t change anything. Thanks for the recipe!
I've made this plenty of times but wondered how it might hold up if made a day ahead.
You'll need to reheat it so it will be a more wilty and not as fresh, but will still taste fine.
This is delicious! I used the chilis to make it spicy and because i travel tomorrow i added shitaki mushrooms so they didnt go to waste. Gai lan is one of my favorite greens. I usually use it in my chicken pho and add more gai lan than noodles because I like the flavor and texture so much. I am so happy I have another delicious way to make this gai lan since it is almost always in my fridge.
This is the first time that I have made gai lan your way. This is also the first time that EVERYONE (6 people at the table) loved it. In the past there was always a few negative or just neutral comments. Thanks for the great and simple recipe. Ah yes, I added a half teaspoon of Guilin Chili sauce.
So glad to hear!!!
Oh my goodness! This was amazing!
Adam The HTK Minion
That's great to hear! 🙂
I followed the directions except I tripled the sauce and garlic. Added some shrimp and we had it over rice. It is delicious and will be making it frequently. I'm thinking I will make the sauce for just putting over rice.
I need to look for more of your recipes now.
This was delicious! My stepmom is Thai and it was very helpful to have measured amounts of the ingredients as her way of showing me how to cook is “add it until it tastes right” lol! I appreciate the precision and ratios so that there is consistency. Could you please tell me what the name of the tabletop gas element that you use is called? I have an porcelain electric stovetop and can never get my wok hot enough. Thank you in advance!
Delicious and so easy! Added shrimp and rice to make it a meal and it was a huge hit.
Hi, do you think Bok choy would work with this recipe? Thanks!
I made this tonight with Baby broccoli and I used Calabrian peppers because I can not find Chinese broccoli or Thai chilis where I live. I have to say that it was simple and delicious! Thank you!
I've made this with choy sum, bok choy, cima di rapa (a mediterranean member of the brassica family) and even broccoli florets with great success. Only with gai lan I have never made it. So, just go for it!
Gai lan is my fave stir fry veg, it's absolutely fantastic. In this dish it is allowed to sing like a prime Freddie Mercury
Wat is een bias?
It's just a fancy way of saying to cut it diagonally. See the video at 2:15 for demo
Cutting the stems on the bias means cutting the stems into diagonal slices. You create not only more cooking surface area, but also a better presentation.
I would like to share some information about Chinese broccoli. All green vegetables have all of the macronutrients in them: protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Chinese broccoli is 13% high quality protein, 27% fat and 60% carbohydrate.
American broccoli is 20% protein, 9% fat, and 71% carbohydrate.
It is misinformation that vegetables do not have quality protein in them. Think about this: How do grazing animals like elephants, zebra, giraffes, hippopotamus, deer, elk, antelope . . you get the idea . . . grow so big on only greens? Where do they get their protein? From the greens that they eat. Protein is in every plant on earth and this is where all mammals ultimately get their protein. Where do you think cows get THEIR protein?
Please consider that vegetables ARE protein just as beans, legumes, rice are as well.
Thank you very much for that useful information! You make a very good point about plant protein.
Sorry, Michael, but Erna's post is misleading pseudoscientific drivel, not useful information. Please do your own - proper - research.
Gai lan Nutritional information (aka FACTS) for 100gms:
Source:WebMd/Fitbit/Nutrionix... etc, etc, etc... or just search Google.
"How do grazing animals... grow so big on only greens?"
They eat VAST amounts of them, spending most of their day eating. The cud is swallowed, fermented, regurgitated, swallowed again (depending on the animal this happens multiple times in their multiple stomachs) in order to extract the sparse amount of nutrients. Rabbits even eat their own faeces so as to extract all they can, since vegetation is so calorie poor.
Perhaps a bit of research wouldnt go amiss before posting misinformation.
A go-to dish if your mains need to pair up with a little bit more delicious veggies!
This is by far my favourite recipe. It's simple and yet very tasty. My only problem is eating too much rice with it. I've cooked this many times following Pailin's recipe and always it had been satisfying.
I made this tonight and it was really good. I had to add a little bit of salt but I love my salt. My son who is 19 tasted it and said this taste good what is it. I said Chinese broccoli. He said not bad. He hates broccoli. Thanks for the recipe.
A solid staple of a side dish, super tasty.