Chinese Broccoli and Beef Stir-Fry

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Here is a vegetable that goes by several name variations: kai-lan, gai-lan, Chinese broccoli, Chinese kale. This is the same leafy greens that I had kept asking my friend Alice for its name about but she didn’t know what it was in English. It’s kind of sad that I only found out about it when I went to the Chinese supermarket. I’m so good at this food-thing, you know? [grins]

According to Wikipedia, Gai-lan (English) is a “slightly bitter leaf vegetable featuring thick, flat, glossy blue-green leaves with thick stems and a small number of tiny, almost vestigial flower heads similar to those of broccoli”, as seen here in Exhibit A:

It is of the same species as broccoli and kale, hence it’s either Chinese broccoli OR kale. Its flavor is very similar to that of broccoli, but a bit sweeter. Gai-lan is widely eaten in Chinese cuisine — stir-fried with ginger and garlic or boiled served with oyster sauce, both of which I’ve tried. Unlike broccoli, where only the flowering parts are normally eaten,  the leaves and stems of the Chinese broccoli are eaten. For us Asians, the lesser the amount that needs to be thrown away, the better. We are, after all, from a culture where parents are bound to finish their kids leftovers because it would be such a waste not to.

When I cooked Gai-lan, I opted to experiment as usual, instead. Around the time that I made this, I felt like I was on the Iron Chef (for Dummies, mind you) with the “secret ingredient”: shiitake mushrooms. I bought a big bag of it and they ended up being cooked with : soy bean sprouts, chow mein (a concoction which will never make it to this site because if recipes were comedies, this would be the really bad slaptstick version), and with gai-lan and ground beef:

A la cuisine! Haha…sorry. I get carried away.

I really loved how this last-minute concoction turned out. The slight bitterness of the Chinese broccoli was counteracted by the ginger-y ground beef and soft mushrooms. Rice topped with this is perfection. Here is a simple balanced meal that is tasty and offers a lot of different textures, without an overpowering taste.

I’m not one to advocate deprivation, only moderation: a little meat, some veggies, and rice. That’s my eating logic, and I’m sticking to it. :)


If you’d like to try this, here is the recipe with step-by-step photo slideshow. Nom, nom,nom…

Chinese Broccoli and Beef Stir-Fry
» download the print-ready PDF recipe

Ingredients:

•    1/2 lb ground beef
•    11 Chinese broccoli/kale or gai-lan/kai-lan stalks/bunches, chopped into 1″ to 1.5″ length (cut the stems shorter because they cook longer)
•    6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced (about 1 1/2 generous cup when sliced)
•    1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
•    1 tsp ground ginger (powder)
•    1/4 tsp salt
•    1/4 tsp ground pepper
•    ½ tbsp vegetable oil

Preparation:

1.    In medium heat, sauté onions in pre-heated oil for 5 minutes until the pieces become translucent. Add shiitake mushrooms, salt, pepper, and sauté for another 3 minutes.

2.    Mix in the ground ginger powder and ground beef. Cook on medium-high heat for 8 minutes or until the juice of the meat is clear. Stir occasionally.

3.    Place chopped Chinese broccoli on top of the meat and mushroom. Cover for 5 minutes. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper if preferred.

4.    Take off the heat and serve with rice.

14 Responses to “Chinese Broccoli and Beef Stir-Fry”

  1. That looks awesome. So green and fresh!

    The Duo Dishess last blog post..The Battle of the Oils

  2. Nate says:

    I think I’d mix a little oyster sauce into the ground beef before frying.

    Nates last blog post..Thai-Inspired Caesar Salad Recipe

  3. Chris Andrew says:

    Nice dish, my Asian roommate makes Gai-lan all the time and I’m slowly converting. Do you know anything about it’s nutritional value compared to say broccoli?

    • joy says:

      Chris, you had me curious. I did my own little research –

      From NutritionData.com

      Chinese Broccoli/Broccoli (100 g, cooked)

      Calories 22/35
      Calories from fat 6/3
      Total fat 1g/0g
      Saturated fat 0g/0g
      Cholesterol 0g/0g
      Sodium 7mg/41mg
      Carb 4g/7g
      Dietary Fiber 3g/3g
      Sugars 1g/3g
      Protein 1g/2g

      Based on a 2,000-calorie diet:
      Vit A 33%/31%
      Vit C 47%/108%
      Calcium 10%/4%
      Iron 3%/4%

      Hope that helps! Taste- and texture-wise I like gai-lan better because it seems to keep it’s crunchiness well with heat. Broccoli is so easy to overcook.

  4. Manggy says:

    Hmm, I’ve always pronounced it gourmetted. Hee hee :) Lovely dish! I hope I can find similar produce on the aisles here– it’s a little tough these days!

    Manggys last blog post..Cherry Clafoutis

    • joy says:

      Hehehehe. I’m always so surprised when people pronounce it like that. :p Thanks, Manggy! You’re in the US right now, right? You might find it.

  5. Seth Simonds says:

    Delicious!

    I was just in our local Asian food market and wondered at the use for what I now know to be Chinese Broccoli! I’ll make a point to pick some up next time and try out your recipe.

    The timing must be a sign. I’m subscribing! =)

    Happy Gourmet-ing!

    Seth Simondss last blog post..The Value Of Silly: Restaurant Crayons

    • joy says:

      Thank you, Seth! And from the looks of what I’ve “researched” above (See my reply to Chris), it looks like it’s healthier than regular broccoli, too. :) It’s a sign, you know it! :)

  6. Ben says:

    I have been reading your blog for a year and I just learned how to pronounced its name, LOL. I love the new layout and colors, and I also love the recipe. I had never seen Chinese broccoli before, but now I am intrigued and must try it.

    Bens last blog post..Patacones (Tostones) Supremos

    • joy says:

      Hahaha…Ben, it’s okay. After several people giving me the look as if I’m twisting their arm when they try to say our blog’s name, I realize that it’s not as straightforward as I imagined it to be when I bought the domain name. LOL!!! Thanks so much for your input — I love the colors, too, and the layout. Makes me want to write more regularly. Hehe. You, me — we keep discovering new stuff from each other’s blogs. :)

  7. Justin says:

    Whoa… this site is pretty awesome :) your layout is really well designed, and your blogs are (judging from what i’ve read) very interesting. heehee… consider yourself favorited. :-P

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