Chinese Broccoli


This week’s Wok Wednesdays dish is Hong Kong Style Stir-Fried Chinese Broccoli. In case you’re wondering what Chinese broccoli (gai lan in Cantonese) looks like here’s a shot I took a few years ago in Hong Kong. In Chinatown produce markets in New York and San Francisco, they’re normally sold in 2-pound bundles. It’s stunning to see them beautifully displayed this way in a Hong Kong wet market. On the top row there’s a stalk that has white buds, (they can even be pale green). Once the buds open and produce yellow flowers the broccoli is past its prime. Also avoid dried ends or yellow leaves.

The broccoli has a mild bitterness that’s a little similar to broccoli rabe. When prepping the vegetable all you need to do is trim 1/4-inch from the bottom of each stem end. The stalks can be 1/4-to 1  1/4-inch in diameter. Cut the stalks in half lengthwise if more than 1/2-inch in diameter. Cut the stalks and leaves into 2-inch long pieces, keeping the stalks separate from he leaves. Be sure the vegetable is dry before stir-frying. In Hong Kong and in China the stems are more prized than the leaves. Some cooks only stir-fry the stems which are tender-crisp after a quick toss and tumble in a wok over high heat. If you can’t cook the broccoli fresh from the market, wrap the stalks in paper towels and place in a plastic bag in the vegetable bin. They’ll keep for up to 5 days.

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