Chinese Broccoli: What Is it?

by Anne Maxfield on July 21, 2016

Accidental Locavore Chinese BroccoliHave you ever had Chinese broccoli?

Me neither.

Also known as gai lan, it was one of the choices at my CSA recently and feeling brave, the Accidental Locavore tried it. It looks like just the leaves of broccoli, but bigger, with a little bud in the center.

Since it was Chinese, something Asian seemed to be appropriate.

Because I was trying to get Frank to like it, a recipe from the NY Times with anchovies seemed like it might work and conveniently this serves 2:Accidental Locavore Cooking Chinese Broccoli

  • 1 pound Chinese broccoli, rinsed and trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 8 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons Vietnamese fish sauce (more or less to taste)

Split the large stalks of broccoli in half lengthwise. Add the oil to a large sauté pan on high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and anchovies and cook, pressing on the anchovies with a wooden spoon until they dissolve and the garlic lightly browns.

Add the Chinese broccoli and toss in the sauce to coat. Pour in the rice wine and let it reduce for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and fish sauce, bring to a boil, cover and steam until almost tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and cook at a lively simmer until the broccoli is tender and the sauce has evaporated slightly. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Chinese Broccoli With ChickenMy verdict: This would have been really good if the Chinese broccoli had been cooked through. What was weird was that it didn’t seem to matter what size the stalks were, some of them were perfectly cooked and others were way too crunchy. Even time in the microwave for the leftovers, didn’t seem to make a difference. Odd.

However, the parts that were cooked until tender were delicious (and yes, Frank liked the cooked parts, too). I’ve been using Red Boat fish sauce which happens to be Vietnamese, but I’m sure Thai fish sauce would work just fine. Go easy with the fish sauce and taste before you add all of it in. Broccoli rabe and regular broccoli would work also. For more acid, I did add another splash of  rice wine vinegar. Serve it like I did with some jasmine rice and grilled chicken thighs.

So, if you see Chinese broccoli, grab it and try this and let me know what you think.

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