I don’t know a lot of words in Chinese or Cantonese, the language that Geoff’s family speaks. I’m notoriously bad at foreign languages. But I do know the words daan taat (Chinese egg tart), gai mei bao (sweet coconut buns translated as “cocktail buns“) and shumai (a delectable pork and shrimp dumpling). Seeing a trend here?
Well, along with my limited vocabulary of sweets and dumplings, I also know the word gai lan, or Chinese broccoli. This leafy Chinese green with thick stocks has been one of my favorites ever since I first tasted it a few years ago. I can eat a ton of gain lan. I always look for it on Chinese food restaurant menus, and I always try to grab some at the store if I’m planning on making Chinese food at home. Stir-fried with garlic and ginger it makes a simple, healthy side dish. Feel free to try this recipe with bok choy, choy sum or other Asian greens if you’re not able to find gai lan at your grocery store.
- 1 pound gai lan (Chinese broccoli) or other Asian green of your choice
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- Wash the gai lan and cut it into 2 to 3-inch pieces, keeping the stalks separate from the leafy tops.
- Heat a wok over high flame. Add the oil along with the garlic and ginger, and let them cook for about 30 seconds. Add the stalks to the wok to give them a head start, just letting them heat up for about a minute. Add the leaves to the wok and keep everything moving around as you stir-fry. When the stalks are tender and the leaves are wilted, add two tablespoons of water, the sugar and salt. Stir it all up and serve.
- The greens shrink down dramatically, so don't worry about your wok overflowing when you add the leaves. Just add them slowly in a few batches.