Kai Lan (Chinese broccoli) is one of my favorite vegetables! It’s a little like broccoli, a little like broccolini, a little like kale and mustard greens. If you were to combine all of the veggies above, you’d pretty much get Chinese broccoli.
You’ve probably seen Kai/Gai Lan on the menu at Chinese restaurants or other Southeast Asian cuisine like Thai or Vietnamese. It’s a cold-weather vegetable so fall and winter would be the best season to eat Chinese broccoli (although it’s not hard to find year-around, it may be limited at the market during off-season). The literal translation of Chinese broccoli, Kai/Gai Lan, means “mustard orchid” so it is definitely in the mustard greens family. The leaves have a similar thickness and characteristic of kale but tougher. And the stem is a lot like the regular broccoli but bitter. How about broccolini? Part of the family? Yep! The broccolini is a hybrid of Kai Lan and broccoli that the Japanese had married together some years ago.
I remember my mom making this Chinese broccoli with Chinese sausage (Lap Cheong) dish often in the winter in my younger days. And as a picky-eater, this was one of the few dishes that I’d just gobble up along with a bowl of freshly made rice. The drizzle of soy sauce is key! This is definitely a dish that reminds me of those cold nights having dinner with my family.
Do you have a dish that reminds you of winter from childhood?
- 1-2 Chinese sausage, sliced, about 4 tbsp
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- ½ lb Chinese broccoli (Kai Lan)
- 3 tbsp chicken broth
- ¼ tsp sugar
- ½ tbsp soy sauce
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Rinse and drain Chinese broccoli thoroughly. Cut the leaves roughly, about ½". And slice the stems thinly on an angle, about ⅛".
- Slice the Chinese sausage on an angle, also about ⅛".
- Heat a skillet on medium-high and add olive oil. Twirl the pan around to spread the oil somewhat evenly on the pan. Add Chinese sausage and cook for 3 minutes, until it's turned slightly transparent. Remove from pan into a bowl.
- On the same skillet, add sesame oil and garlic. Let it cook until fragrant, about 12 seconds. Add Chinese broccoli and chicken broth, and let it cooking for 4 minutes, stir occasionally.
- Add Chinese sausage, sugar, and soy sauce and cook for another 4 minutes.
- Plate and serve with rice on the side.