Gai lan is the Cantonese name and jie lan is the Mandarin name for a vegetable that is also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale. It is a leaf vegetable with thick, flat, glossy blue-green leaves with thick stems, and flower heads similar to but much smaller than broccoli, another Brassica oleracea cultivar, but gai lan is in the group alboglabra. Its flavor is very similar to that of broccoli, but slightly more bitter. It is also noticeably stronger.
Key NutrientsChinese broccoli is a nutrient dense food which is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. Chinese broccoli is also a great source of folic acid, and has a very high amount of dietary fiber.
Health BenefitsVitamin A – Vitamin A, when converted into retinaldehyde, is a vital compound for healthy eyes. Furthermore, vitamin A is believed to fight against cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma. Vitamin A strengthens the membranes of the human body such as mucous membranes, respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts. It is also essential for the lymphocytes, or white blood cells, that fight infection once in the body.
Vitamin C – Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infections and scavenges harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals. Vitamin C also helps to prevent respiratory problems such as asthma and lung cancer. Vitamin C has been shown to lower blood pressure, and therefore lessen the probability of hypertension.
Vitamin K – Vitamin-K plays an important role in bone metabolism by promoting osteotrophic activity in bone cells. Vitamin K also acts to clot open wounds and prevent excessive bleeding. Healthy vitamin K levels lower the release of the glycoprotein interleukin-6, a marker of inflammation within the body.
Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12, or folic acid, helps to preserve neurological function and DNA synthesis. It also plays a key role in the health of red blood cells. The nervous system relies on vitamin B12 for proper function as well.
Dietary Fiber – Dietary Fiber stimulates digestion and peristalsis, helping to relieve indigestion and constipation problems.
SeasonChinese broccoli is typically planted in the spring time and reaches maturity in the summer months and fall. Broccoli is commercially grown as well, making it available year round.
Nutrition InformationPer 1 cup (90 grams):
Calories (cKal): 31
Protein (grams): 2.57
Total Fat (grams): .34
Carbohydrates (grams): 6.04
Fiber (grams): 2.4
Buying and StoringWhen buying Chinese broccoli, make sure the leaves are bright green and not discolored or wilted. Make sure to avoid Kai-lan which contains a lot of insect damage. When storing at home, place the Chinese broccoli in a sealed container or bag, and store for up to five days. Before using, make sure to wash under cold water for at least 30 seconds.
Best Way to Add to DietChinese broccoli is an extremely versatile vegetable. Before cooking, make sure to wash under cold water for at least 30 seconds. Kai-lan pairs nicely with a grilled piece of fish and rice, or makes a great addition to any stir fry. Alternatively, try steaming Chinese broccoli in boiling water for four minutes for a simple and delicious addition to any dish.
Chinese Broccoli Recipe
By Chef Woo Can
Bean sprouts are storehouse of essential nutrients such as Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin A and also other Vitamins like B1 and B6. This food is also a great source that is enriched in elements like Magnesium, Iron, calcium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Omega 3 fatty acids and Manganese.
Most major supermarket chains carry bean sprouts. You need to make sure they are crispy, not wilty or brownish. Must be bright white. If liquid forms at bottom of package, skip it.
Cooking bean sprout you want to retain the crispness, so this should go in last amongst other ingredients. Crunchy is key here. Don't over cook this veggie since its 100% water.
Bean sprouts go well with any soup. Add at end when the soup is ready. Or stir fry with your favorite meat or seafood and a dash of oyster sauce.
By Chef Woo Can
The thought of Shittake Mushrooms makes me salivate. It is one of the most used ingredients in all of Asian cooking. Yes, there is fresh Shittake mushrooms but the dried type is the best. These mushrooms when dried create such a unique flavor with anything meets you add to it, whether it be chicken or seafood, its just a complementary flavor.
Where do you buy it? Most Asian markets have it. I reside in Maryland and the markets I go to is H Mart Supermarket in Catonsville and Golden Bridge Supermarket in Rosedale.
Going into one of these places is a definite experience that you may imagine in the Asian markets overseas.
Shittake mushrooms are graded on quality and presentation. The price is moderate but the beauty is that the mushrooms can be stored for awhile.
To prepare the mushrooms, take a few out and soak in warm water early morning. By the time your ready to cook, the mushrooms has been reconstituted with water. They are so plump and ready to go. Trim off a portion of the stem underneath (might be a little hard).
Now your ready to slice or dice the mushroom. I will include 2 recipes, one with chicken and the other as an Asian steam ground pork loaf platter with water chestnuts, shitake mushroom and Chinese sausage.
By Chef Woo Can
In MD: chefwoocanmaryland
Years and years ago, Chinese Produce, frozen products and canned, jar and bottled sauces was a hush hush adventure. Literally, you would have to drive to Chinatown to search and find ingredients to help you cook Chinese food.
It was truly an adventure. The owners didn,t speak English, customer didn't speak Chinese. Hand signals were no good, pronouncing ingredient names were hilarious, all this to try to duplicate your favorite dish.
Then the mass exodus of 2nd and 3rd generation Chinese American fleeing to the suburbs. I was already in the burbs and slowly but surely the Asian were coming. Don't get me wrong, it was great! Then Asian grocery stores were popping up. Although not exactly like these stores in Chinatown, they came pretty close. The owners spoke English and were able to help find certain ingredients.
Then, wonton was premade, soups in package, my favorite dishes in a disposable pouch made of the sauce I dreamed of. Just add chicken or beef.
Then dumplings came around and now any dish you hoped to duplicate can be done with redi made mixes and soup packets.
Plain basic rice has been packaged. Just pop in the microwave and its heated.
So, today, you have no trouble finding anything now. Just visit your local Asian Grocery store.
Try the various vegetables, they are delicious!
Chef Woo Can
Lemongrass is a vegetable stalk used in predominately in Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand and Vietnam. I'm sure they also use it in Burma, Laos and Indonesian but these cuisines have not been accepted yet but slowly but surely they will make their cuisines noticed soon. . It has a mild lemony citrus flavor. It's usually used as an herb and flavoring in curries, soups, and curry pastes. It's also popular for tea.
Lemongrass can easily be found at almost any Asian grocery. When purchasing Lemongrass, the stalk should be firm and opaque in color at the root level.
To release the aromatic aroma and flavors, small it with flat side of a cleaver or heavy knife.
When stir frying, more of the aroma will be noticeable and any ingredient added will absorb the lemon grass flavor.
It can be used in soups, meat dishes and curries.
Lemongrass gives another dimension of flavor.
The most potent part of the Lemongrass is the bottom half of the stalk. In soups and cooking, you can chop off about a 1/4 of the top pf the stalk.. To prepare, cut the lemongrass at 1/2 inch pieces and smash to release oils.
(Now with technology advancing, they now have powdered lemongrass that all you have to do is sprinkle the powder in your stir fry).
With the hot weather approaching, Vietnamese food and barbequeing will make your life easier, tastier and simpler with challenging flavors!
By Chef Woo Can
FRESH GINGER ROOT
Did you know?
That fresh ginger root has medicinal properties? Yes, its great for the following:
loss of appetite
Western medicine would have a pill for each ailment, all you have to do is buy a natural fresh rhizome root and apply it to your favorite dish or tea. Guaranteed you'll feel 100% better.
The powdered capsule of ginger or the container of powdered ginger, I guess its ok, convenient, possibly but you'll pay for the processing.
Try it, add it to your salads, soups, marinade, everything. Just peel off the skin and slice very thinly or grind the fresh ginger.
Chef Woo Can
Tell your friends about me.
Chinese BOK Choy Stir Fry Recipe
By Chef Woo Can www.chefwoocan.com
Aaaah, Bok Choy. This might jut be the first Chinese vegetable your familiar with. Today, its practically in every large supermarket in the veggie section. It has a unique mild flavor. It can be stir fry with fresh garlic and a little chicken broth for steaming. It's physical characteristics is a long broad white stalk with very leafy leafy towards the top. Should be firm when you snap a stalk, if it old, it won't snap. Leaves should be green, not yellow tinged and alive and crisp.
1 clove of fresh garlic or garlic powder
1 small piece of fresh ginger; peeled and smashed then minced
1. Cut the bok choy in 2-3 inch pieces, cut the bottom off and throw it away. Place in a container and rinse thoroughly. Bok choy will have a lot of sand and dirt. Do this rinsing until no more grit settles to the bottom of the container. Take out the bok choy and set aside.
2. In a non stick pan, add about 1 table spoon of oil, add some garlic powder or fresh garlic and ginger. Medium heat , allow garlic and ginger to fuse in oil but don't let it burn.
3. Add bok choy on medium to high heat and stir fry, vegetable change texture after about 2 minutes. Add a little chicken broth to speed up cooking. Take one out and check for texture, should be not overdone or under cooked but "al dente."
You just created your first Chinese vegetable dish. Congratulations!