gai lan or Chinese broccoli
Gailaan, gai lan, or Chinese broccoli; a versatile vegetable ingredient, both tasty + healthy. It is a relative of the tougher skinned and slower growing Italian type broccoli. It has a delicious flavor, cooks fast, and is a breeze to prep. Gailaan is universally found in the produce sections of Asian markets. Usually saddled alongside Yu Choi Sum and other great asian vegetable varieties.
Gai Laan or chinese broccoli has become one of my staple vegetables. I first read about gailaan in the kitazawa seed catalog. I was looking for interesting, and new to me, vegetables to grow for my chef friends in New Orleans. the the kitizawa seed catalog description sounded like what i was looking for. And so, i ordered a few seed packs. In the meantime, i went to the famed ‘Hong Kong market’ in New Orleans, to procure a sample from the produce section. The immediate home kitchen trials were a hit, and now, I have a preference towards for it. This experience really opened the door for me, and set me on a path of trialing this, and many other Asian vegetables in the garden. Also, another great vegetable similar in style, is yo choy sum or yu choi sum. click here to read about yu choi sum!
In contrast to European mustard family vegetables, selective breeding for centuries in east Asia have yielded often faster growing, tender + flavorful alternatives. Because it can reach maturity in the field in 1/3 the time, the skin of the stalk is soft, and does not need peeling. İn most cases it can be used much like asparagus or green beans. İt is typically a 6 to 8″ stalk, with a few tender leaves and a miniature Brassica floret.
using Chinese broccoli
The vegetable as a whole, has a flavor that is a slightly more intense broccoli flavor, almost peppery. and Unlike Italian broccoli, you can use the whole plant – unpeeled stem and leaves. Often, I’ll pick off the leaves and cut them into strips, which I then add at the very last minute or two of a soup or stir fry. The stems cook very quickly, and as they are delightfully crunchy raw, so a minute of steaming or boiling is enough. However 2 to 3 minutes won’t turn it to mush, so experiment as to what suites your taste.
here’s a few ideas to get started
- Marinate the stalks in olive oil and a little shoyu/tamari and toss on a grill.
- Saute for a minute and add minced ginger, garlic and drizzle it withe toasted seseme oil.
- Add it as a vegetable component to a ramen or pho bowl.
- Chop the stalks into bite sized pieces and add to a stir fry.
- Make a welcome substitution in recipes that call for asparagus or green beans.