Who knew that the Chinese had their very own broccoli? News to me too.
In fact, I wouldn’t have known that I even liked the leafy green with asparagus like stalks known as Chinese broccoli if it weren’t for my recent love affair with Thai food and the fact that my new favorite dish, pad see ew, features the lovely vegetable. In fact, I am beginning to think that I love my new Thai favorite more for the Chinese broccoli than for the wide noodles and delicious sweet soy bean sauce. My friend Shannon will for sure say that is the reason…but, more on her strange eating habits later.
Chinese broccoli (aka Gai Lan) is not at all like how you traditionally think of broccoli. It is a flat leafy green that looks almost like spinach with a crunchy stem and has a sweeter and slightly bitter taste that is similar to kale. It falls in the “earthy” category but, from experience, it is quite delicious. Nutritionally complete, Chinese broccoli is packed with vitamins A and C and is a great source of calcium and iron. The good for you green is also happy to share its beta-carotene and folate with you. I just love finding another vegetable to mix things up and this one is a champion in flavor and nutrition.
Although I have an extreme love for Chinese broccoli in pad see ew, the veg is great for many more satisfying dishes. It is a quick cooker and usually thrown into a dish the last few minutes of cooking. Chinese broccoli newbie? Try these:
- Nosh on this simple side dish of sautéed Chinese broccoli with garlic.
- Enjoy Chinese egg noodle soup, a light and healthy summer soup.
- Prepare your un-broccoli the traditional way by blanching in oyster sauce.
- Rice lovers will swoon over this brown rice porridge where Chinese broccoli is the star.
- Okay, I’ll let you love my favorite Chinese broccoli dish too with this recipe for pad see ew. Just don’t think I will share mine with you if we eat it together.
Chinese broccoli is one of many Asian greens that are in season for the summer and should be easily found at Asian markets if you are having trouble at finding the vegetable at your local grocery store.
However, you might be out of luck because my friend ate it all. She eats every piece of her Chinese broccoli separate from the rest of the dish. Weirdest thing ever. I think this is a sign she needs to order extra Chinese broccoli. Just saying.
So, everyone have their forks ready for this one??
Have you ever eaten Chinese broccoli? Do you have any weird eating habits like my friend? Do tell in the comments section below!
Feature photo courtesy of sfllaw via Flickr (CC BY-SA 3.0)