Monday, May 30, 2011

Hao You Jie lan (Oyster Sauce Chinese broccoli)

Hao You Jie lan (Oyster Sauce Chinese broccoli)

Another extremely simple, delicately flavored dish, jie lan, a flowering cabbage, is as common to the Chinese as broccoli is to Westerners, most especially in Southern China, where the vegetable is known as gai lan.   The literal translation denotes mustard orchid, but in English, it goes by the name of “Chinese Broccoli” and “Chinese Kale.” In standard Chinese American restaurants, it is seldom on the (English) menu, yet, as prepared in this recipe, it is a fixture in dim sum restaurants all over the world.  Like most traditional preparations of Chinese vegetables, jie lan is also singularly nutritious, being lightly cooked and seasoned.  It is visually appealing as well.  In fact, the lush green color of jie lanis one of its most striking attributes.  Note that the addition of baking soda to the boiling water, which inhibits the breakdown of chlorophyll, will maintain and even enhance the vegetable’s appearance.
  • 1 Lb Jie lan or Gai lan (Chinese Cabbage)
  • Oyster Sauce for garnish
  • Peanut Oil for garnish
  • 1 tsp baking soda
When buying jie lan, make certain it is firm, fresh,  and dark green with minimal discoloration on the leaves. Trim dried stem ends and any discolored or perforated leaves from Jie lan.  Heat 6-10 quarts of water in a large pot; when the water boils, add the soda, then the jie lan.  When the water returns to a boil, cook the vegetable about one more minute.  Retrieve a piece with tongs, cut an inch off the stem end so that it will cool quickly and taste for doneness.  It should be crisp, but not raw—remember it will continue cooking when it is taken from the water.  If jie lan is nearly done, take it out and drain in a colander.  Using tongs or chop sticks, immediately arrange on a platter with the stems in the same direction; (if the vegetable is longer than 10 or so inches you may prefer to cut the pile through the middle with scissors.)  Drizzle with peanut oil, then oyster sauce, and serve immediately.

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