You’ve probably never come across it in the grocery store, but chances are, you’ve eaten it in a Chinese restaurant: we’re talking about Chinese broccoli, or gai-lan, a floret-less broccoli consisting of thick stems with long green leaves and small yellowish edible flowers. It tastes like broccoli, but is a little stronger and with a hint of bitterness.
Very popular in Chinese cuisine, especially in Cantonese cuisine, it is also widely used in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine; it’s often sautéed with garlic and ginger, or steamed and served with oyster sauce.
Like its cousin broccoli, gai-lan is a plant of the family Brassicaceae. So it makes sense to include it on the menu for its high antioxidant content. Asian grocery stores stock it all year round, and they also sell broccolini, a hybrid between broccoli and gai-lan. Choose broccoli with firm leaves and stems and few flowers.
Try our recipe for Sautéed Chinese Broccoli
Originally published in the Journal de Montréal on November 24, 2012.