Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) with Oyster Sauce


Chinse Broccoli with Oyster Sauce Recipe


Chinse Broccoli with Oyster Sauce Recipe Closeup

Chinse Broccoli with Oyster Sauce Recipe Done



How to buy Gai Lan

It’s easy to pick out the best Gai Lan, or to see if it is fresh and tender. Select a bunch, look at the ends of the stalk. If they are dry, crusted and shriveled. Don’t buy. The middle of the stalk should ideally be one color – a creamy, translucent color. If you see a solid white circle in the middle of the stalk, it may mean the Gai Lan is a little old. It still could be good – look at the leaves and the buds for more clues to how fresh it is. Why is this so important? You briefly steam the Gai Lan so that it is tender crisp, so if the vegetable is old, you’ll really taste the bitterness.


Most Gai Lan have white flowers, though there are varieties that include both white and yellow flowers (probably a cross between gai lan and Chinese greens called yu choy) The flower buds should be tight and compact – there should be buds not open flowers. Lots and lots of open flowers means the stalk is older and past its prime for eating and it will be more bitter and chewy.

As with many Chinese stir-fry dishes, the ginger in this dish is cut into 1/8″ coins – the large pieces gently infuse the cooking oil and aren’t necessarily meant for eating. When we cook family-style, my Mom just leaves the ginger coins in the finished dish, and we just push them out of the way when we eat. Of course, you can remove them prior to serving if you’d like. The whole garlic also infuses the cooking oil and after toasting, it becomes soft and wonderfully sweet. Sometimes, I double the amount of garlic cloves because I just love eating the cloves of garlic!





Chinese Broccoli Recipe (Gai Lan)

Servings: 4-6 Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes


1 pound of Chinese broccoli (Gai Lan)
1 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil
5 whole garlic cloves, peeled and gently smashed but left intact
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 inch of fresh ginger, cut into 1/8" coins and smashed with side of cleaver
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil


To wash the gai lan, trim 1-inch from the ends of stalk and discard. In large wok or pan (large enough to hold all stalks), heat just 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil over medium heat. When the oil is just starting to get hot (the garlic should sizzle upon contact) add the whole garlic cloves and let them fry until golden brown on all sides. Be careful not to burn the garlic, you just want to toast them - if the garlic starts turning dark brown, turn the heat to low. Toasting the garlic should take about 2 minutes. While the garlic is toasting, in a small bowl mix the stock, wine and sugar and set aside.

Turn the heat to high and add the ginger, fry for 30 seconds. Add the gai lan stalks and use your spatula to scoop up the oil so that every stalk has been bathed with the ginger/garlic-infused oil for 30 seconds.

Pour the stock mixture into the wok and immediately cover the wok with a tight fitting lid. Turn the heat to medium and let the vegetable steam for 3-4 minutes, until stalks can be easily pierced with a paring knife or fork.

Remove the gai lan to a plate, leaving any remaining stock mixture in the wok. If you want, pick out and discard the ginger coins. To the wok, add the oyster sauce and sesame oil and bubble and thicken on high for 1 minute. Pour the sauce mixture over the gai lan and serve.

Other recipes

Bok Choy Recipe

Chinese Spinach Recipe (Yu Choy)

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Comments 33

  1. tigerfish

    Recently I’ve got myself some Yu Choy, and the yellow flowers look exactly like the Gailan here. Another “cross pollination” I’ve seen is on bok choy and baby boy choi-the resultant is Tagu Choy! I’ll try to take some pictures and post them in my blog.

    And yes, Gailan with Oyster sauce is such a classic! Love this.
    Where’s my plate of Hong Kong noodles ?

  2. SteamyKitchen

    I just put in a call to Mom and left msg about the mysterious yellow flower Gai Lan….
    I haven’t tried Tagu Choy – taste same as Bok Choy?

    HK noodles coming soon!

  3. Passionate Eater

    What an amazing post. When I first went to college, I attended a conference for Asian-Americans. Growing up as one of of the only Asian families in my state, I wasn’t sure I would relate to the experiences of other Asian-Americans. At the conference, the speaker told a story about how his parents never attended his baseball games, and when they finally did, they did not embrace or high-five him like how the other Caucasian parents did to their kids, but they said, “Why did you miss the ball? We are ashamed.” However, later in life, he looked backward and realized how hard his parents worked (often late nights) to put him through college (unlike other Caucasian parents) and how they gave him the best things they had, at their own expense.

    The Asian culture shows love in a beautiful way, although differently from the majority culture in America. Thank you for sharing your story, it made me reflect on the differences and appreciate them.

  4. SteamyKitchen

    Thank you Passionate Eater! Our generation is has evolved – we Asian bloggers revel in communication and expression. I remember as kids, saying “I love you” to parents was an awkward thing. Now, my kids say “I love you” 5 times a day – 4 of those times are because they want something….like chocolate!

  5. simcooks

    I have to scrape of the outer skin of the Gailan then cut them on the bias before I stir fry else the Gailan I get is very fibrous.
    Sometimes I add shrimp and scallops to my Gailan stir fry. I have the recipe in my blog πŸ™‚

  6. MeltingWok

    yes yes yes, and chinese po-po also pick up the food in a lil’ chinese spoon, slowly blow the heat off the food, gently spoon tt into our mouths, such lovely passionate gesture πŸ™‚ oo..I want some of tt gailan with crispy “ham yu” (salted fish) πŸ™‚

  7. mrshbt

    Dear Jaden,

    Beautifully written article about your Mom and her love. You Mom must be so proud of you now.

    The way that you cook your Gai Lan is the way that I cook mine. My husband cooked Gai Lan for me for a whole month when I was recovering from C-section after the birth of my 3 rd child. I never got tired of eating it.

  8. Pingback: Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) with Oyster Sauce « Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen (old site)

  9. Jake

    This post is from a while back but still comes up on Google, so…

    I just wanted to add I have done WAY too much research and prepared gai lan with oyster sauce at least 4 different ways – and this one is by far my favorite. Thanks for the great recipe!

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  13. postmodernbro

    I tried this recipe with broccoli rabe and added toasted sesame seeds as a topping. The bitter rabe with the savory sweet sauce played well together. Thanks for the tasty idea.

  14. Ella

    I used to live in Boston with my cousin and his wife (who is from China) and she opened up my eyes (and stomach) to a whole new world of asian cuisine (something that I’m forever grateful for). I completely fell in love with chinese broccoli when she took me to a dumpling house and I haven’t been able to find that taste again. I’m so excited to try this! Thanks for posting!!!

  15. carol

    this was my first try at cooking veggies…and it was delish…
    thank you so much…will do again and again…

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  18. Tejaswini zumbre

    Very well written recipe, clear and straight forward. Personally, I believe no other stir fries are as delicious as stir fried Gai Lan. This dish that took my heart away 20 years ago as someone new in Hong Kong and new to its culture is still my most favourite food of all time. I would even go as far as to say that it’s one of the foods among some other great chinese foods that made me love Hong Kong when i first came here from India. I enjoy eating this wonderfully delicious heart-warming dish all year round in Hong Kong.

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  25. Jesse

    I tried Chinese broccoli at one Chinese restaurant, it was so good and I want to try out myself. Thank you for your recipe, but can I use vegetable oil instead of sesame oil?

    1. Post
  26. Helen Hale

    Yummy! so delicious and easy. we’re from NYC so we;e used to great asian food. found gai lan at the grocery store (in the middle of nowhere where we now live…) and tried this recipe. delicious. will make again and again.

  27. Nina

    This was incredible! We made our own vegan oyster sauce and was delish. Wonderful flavors and heavenly gai lan…thanks!

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