It’s become more and more evident that we need to increase our green veggie intake to our diet for better health. I love Winnie’s quick recipe for gai-lan, Chinese broccoli, also known as kai-lan, depending on where you shop.
Gai-lan has large dark green leaves, a thick stem, and often has tiny yellow flowers. Once cooked, the stems are not tough but rather juicy. High in vitamin A and C, it has a slightly bitter taste. According to traditional Chinese medicine, bitterness is good for the heart! So, go for it and consume lots of dark greens.
Today’s gai-lan recipe is blanched with a little oyster sauce drizzled on top, similar to what is offered in dim sum restaurants. They usually serve a small bunch on a white oblong plate and kindly cut the vegetables in half with scissors. If you’ve noticed, these greens are always a brilliant deep green and are shiny. Now I know, thanks to Winnie, how they manage to do this. To keep the vegetable color looking bright green instead of turning into a dull muddy green, the trick is to add the baking soda to the pot of water, and plunging the cooked vegetables in cold water once done. The shininess, comes from the addition of oil. So, make sure you don’t skip out on those steps!
This method of blanching is not only great for gai-lan. You can use it for any other greens too. Sometimes I leave out the oil, as I find I don’t need the shine. As I keep reminding my kids, eat more greens!
- one bunch gai-lan
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- oyster sauce and water
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil
- In the meantime, wash the gai-lan and trim off the ends
- Once the water reaches boiling point, add the baking soda, oil and salt
- In the meantime, prepare a large bowl of cold water in the sink, add ice if necessary.
- When the pot with vegetables returns to a boil, drain the gai-lan and plunge into the ice water to stop the cooking.
- Drain well. Place on platter and cut in half with scissors.
- For the oyster sauce, in a small dish pour a couple tablespoons of oyster sauce and thin with water. Pour on top as desired, or you can just dip into sauce if you prefer.