A leafy vegetable with thick stems, glossy leaves of a dark green shade and vestigial yellow flowers, Chinese kale, or Chinese broccoli, is very popular in Asian cooking. It goes well with many vegetables, such as shiitake mushrooms, crispy pork belly and salted fish. Chinese kale is probably one of best vegetables for stir-frying and gives confidence to an amateur cook like me. I love to rinse Chinese kale under running water, as rubbing the leaves’ leathery textures remind me of water droplets bouncing off lotus leaves.
On Saturday we stir-fried Chinese kale with straw mushrooms and oyster sauce (recipe below)—this vegetable just goes well with oyster sauce, doesn’t it? For Sunday, we ran out of stuff to pair with the kale and opted for onions; it turned out to be quite delicious as stir-frying brought out the caramelised flavor of the onions, and which complemented the slightly bitter taste of the kale.
Chinese kale is also known as Chinese broccoli and kai lan (which is based on its Cantonese name). In Mandarin, it’s commonly called jie lan (芥兰) but the character “jiè” can also be read as “gài”. In Thai, it’s known as khanaa (คะน้า).
Stir-fried Chinese Kale with Oyster Sauce
(phat khanaa naam-man hoi | พัดคะน้านำ้มันหอย)
1. Heat up oil on a pan on medium heat. Add minced garlic and stir-fry it briefly. Add Chinese kale, stir-frying until the leaves turn soft.
2. Keeping the pan on low heat, season the dish with oyster sauce and soya sauce. Stir until all ingredients are well-blended. Turn off the flame.
3. Transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle some pepper on top. Serve.