Gai Lan with Garlic and Oyster Sauce

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Gai lan is a Chinese broccoli served mostly in Cantonese cooking. The flower buds and stalks are both eaten. The recipe I’m about to show you can be used as a universal way of stir-frying any vegetable; you can use this for green beans, spinach, bok choy, choy sum, snow pea leaves, Chinese cabbage, etc. Gai lan has a slightly bitter flavor, and that’s why we cook it in garlic and oyster sauce.

I know, I’m using a non-stick wok. I look like a total amateur, with no authentic Chinese cookware. I gave my real wok away when I moved out of my apartment years ago, and never got a new one, due to laziness.

This is a fairly easy recipe. It actually shouldn’t be a recipe at all; after you do it once, you’ll always remember how to do it.

Gai Lan with Garlic and Oyster Sauce (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of gai lan, washed and patted dry
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp corn oil
  • salt
  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce

*You will need tongs and a wok

Quick Directions:

1) Soak the gai lan in a big tub of water for a few minutes. Pat dry; the water on the gai lan will make the oil splatter, so the dryer the better.

2) Heat oil in a wok on high. Immediately after you drop the garlic in, put the gai lan in. Use a lid as a shield from splattering oil.

3) Using tongs, flip the gai lan from bottom to top, so all the leaves are coated with oil. Sprinkle salt over the leaves, this will flavor it plus force the water out of the vegetable.

4) Put a lid on it, turn heat down to medium. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

5) When it is done, the gai lan should be a vibrant green, and the stalks should be tender and crisp. You can put the oyster sauce in now, or drizzle it on top when you serve it.

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Illustrated Directions:

1) Soak the gai lan in a big tub of water for a few minutes. Trust me, if you saw my post on salad earlier, the state of gai lan is worse, given that you don’t purchase it pre-packaged in a fancy container. Pat dry; the water on the gai lan will make the oil splatter, so the dryer the better.

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2) Heat oil in a wok on high.

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3) Immediately after you drop the garlic in, put the gai lan in. It will splatter (no matter how much you dried the leaves), so use a lid as a shield.

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4) Using tongs, flip the gai lan from bottom to top, so all the leaves are coated with oil. Sprinkle salt over the leaves, this will flavor it plus force the water out of the vegetable.

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5) Put a lid on it, turn heat down to medium. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

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6) When it is done, the gai lan should be a vibrant green, and the stalks should be tender and crisp. You can put the oyster sauce in now, or drizzle it on top when you serve it.

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See how easy that was?

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by tokyoterrace on May 25, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    So delicious! We had this at a random Chinese Izakaya in Kyoto, Japan a few weeks ago and it was wonderful! Glad to have recipe for this! I will certainly be making it often…thanks!

    Reply

  2. gai lan? hearing this for the first time. but interesting and look amazing! dumpling, are these brocols available from near by grocers?? cant wait to try this out

    Reply

    • I’ve seen it sold in supermarket chains, and the local asian markets. Gai lan can also be called Chinese broccoli, Kai lan, or Chinese kale. Or you can try this recipe on plain spinach too!

      Reply

  3. Posted by resolution1 on December 24, 2009 at 1:20 am

    I’ve finally found a store that has fresh gai lan, and I absolutely love this dish at any Chinese restaurant where I’ve had it, so I cannot wait to try your recipe!!! Thank you for posting it.

    Reply

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