The crisp, leafy, blue green Chinese broccoli (aka gai lan 芥蘭) is one of Chinese people’s favorite vegetables. You can cook it with beef, chicken or with ginger and garlic, either way is very popular in Chinese cooking. Sometimes people like to blanch it in hot water for a minute or so, drain it thoroughly then stir fry.
Gai lan is very hard, especially the stems. Normally we cut and get rid of the toughest parts of the stems, by about 1 inch. Wash and drain the veggie, cut into bite size pieces at a small diagonal, separate the stems and leaves. Cook the stems first, then add the leaves.
Similar to kale or broccoli, gai lan is high in dietary fiber, packed with vitamins K, C, A and minerals such as iron, calcium and protein. Gai lan has a complex flavor with a little bit of bitterness, but not overpowering the taste. Cantonese people often blanch or steam their gai lan, drizzled with tasty oyster sauce and hot oil 蠔油芥蘭. It is a favorite dish at home or in the restaurants. For a few dollars more, you can have gai lan and beef stir-fry 芥蘭牛肉, which is my favorite.
Gai Lan Stir-Fry with Ginger and Fish Sauce – 魚露薑茸炒芥蘭
Everybody knows how to cook gai lan. But few people can cook it right. It becomes tricky when you have to cook it long enough to get it soft but you also want that signature green color and crisp texture. I have a hard time getting it right myself. Practice, practice.
Gai Lan Stir-Fry with Ginger and Fish Sauce 魚露薑茸炒芥蘭
Ingredients and Instructions
In a bowl, add 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger, 1 tablespoon sherry wine, also 2 teaspoons white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, mix well and set aside. In another bowl, add 1 tablespoon good fish sauce, set aside. (The Vietnamese Three Crabs Brand Fish Sauce is pretty good, I like it.)
Peel and rough chop 2 cloves garlic, set aside. 1 pound gai lan, cut and discard tough parts, wash and drain thoroughly. Cut into small pieces at a diagonal, separate stems and leaves.
Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, then add garlic, quickly stir for 30 seconds. Add gai lan stems, cook 2 minutes, add leaves, mix well. Add ginger mixture, stir, stir. Add fish sauce, keep cooking and stirring, about 5 minutes. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons hot water if you want, cover the pan and cook 2 minutes. Stir, cook 1 to 2 minutes, uncovered. No need to add salt and pepper. The dish has plenty of flavors already.
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