Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chinese Broccoli (Gai Larn)

I've been loving Gai Larn - otherwise known as Chinese Broccoli - ever since my good friend T (who grew up in China) introduced me to it with a simple oyster sauce drizzled over, at Spicy Fish restaurant in Melbourne's CBD.  The dark green vegetable has thick stems from which big dark leaves sprout; sometimes it comes with small yellow/white buds as well.  You can basically eat the whole thing; just trim the ends, wash thoroughly, then chop and put a few slits in the thicker stems so it cooks evenly.

Gai larn is super-charged with beta-carotene and also contains folate.  Plus, it tastes incredible.  It's my favourite asian vegetable - much more robust and crunchy than say, Bok Choy.  It's "meaty" enough to stand up on its own, served simply as is, or with steamed rice and a salty sauce such as oyster or chilli - or you can throw it into a stir fry in the last few minutes of cooking.

I love it boiled for a few minutes, then refreshed under some cold water and served over rice.  Here's a great sauce that will complement it nicely:

Sauce for Gai Larn:

-  1 tsp sesame oil
-  1/4 cup oyster sauce
-  2 tbs light soy sauce
-  1 tsp chilli oil (check Asian grocers)
-  1 tsp brown sugar

Mix all ingredients together in a small pan over medium heat, until sugar dissolves and sauce heats.  Pour over freshly cooked gai larn (stir fried or boiled for 3 minutes) and rice.  Add extra chilli oil to taste.

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