How to Cook Gai-Lan

by Brad Waters

Try gai-lan as an alternative to broccoli or kale.

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Gai-lan, also known as kai-lan, is commonly referred to as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale. It is classified in the scientific family of vegetables that includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale. Gai-lan is popular in Asian countries and increasingly common in U.S. supermarkets. Its flavor can be compared to a cross between broccoli and kale. Gai-lan is recognized by its thick main stem with large, green leaves.

Remove any yellowed leaves, and cut off any dry or discolored ends from the stems.

Heat the oil in the wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and gai-lan.

Saute the gai-lan for approximately one minute, tossing frequently to coat the stems with oil and prevent the garlic from burning.

Add the water or stock to the gai-lan, and cover the wok securely so steam can build up inside.

Steam the gai-lan for approximately two to three minutes. Remove the lid and test one of the gai-lan stems with a fork. The stem should be firm but allow the fork to pierce into the center. The leaves should appear dark green and wilted but not mushy.

Remove the gail-lan from the wok, drizzle the oyster sauce over it, and toss well before serving it immediately.


  • Try adding several slices of fresh ginger at Step 2. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds or drizzle sesame oil on top of the cooked gai-lan before serving. Gai-lan can be added to virtually any stir-fry or be used as a substitute for kale or broccoli.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Brad Waters is a career-life coach and consultant. He has also been a writer for 15 years and is currently a panel expert at PsychologyToday.com, where he writes the "Design Your Path" blog. Brad holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan.