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This restaurant-quality Chinese Broccoli Stir Fry is tender and crisp, with a savory and flavorful garlic sauce. Ready in just 10 minutes, enjoy this easy and healthy side dish with rice or noodles!
In most Chinese restaurants, you’ll find this vegetable flavored with either garlic sauce or oyster sauce. Today I’m sharing with you how to make stir-fried Chinese broccoli with a delicious garlic sauce so that it has a perfect texture with a bright green color.
The trick is to briefly blanch the vegetable for 30 seconds before stir-frying, and you’ll have the most tender and crisp texture!
My Favorite Way to Cook Chinese Broccoli
I’ve used Chinese broccoli in many Asian dishes, such as Pad See Ew, but I find the easiest and fastest way to cook this Asian green is to simply stir fry it and let it take center stage.
The sauce is the key! This garlic sauce has a savory and umami flavor with a hint of sweetness, which balances out the slightly bitter flavor of the vegetable!
What is Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan)?
Also called Gai lan (芥蓝) or Chinese kale, Chinese broccoli is a leafy green with thick stems and small, tasty florets. It has a crunchy texture and slightly bitter taste, but it is perfectly balanced with just the right amount of savory and sweet sauce.
You can use this garlic sauce with other greens such as regular broccoli, broccolini, and bok choy. Below is a photo of these greens next to each other:
The Garlic Sauce Ingredients
This garlic sauce has a savory, umami, and sweet flavor, making it incredibly delicious. You can use this tasty sauce on other Asian greens such as bok choy or napa cabbage. It’s made with a combination of the following ingredients:
- Garlic adds a nice aroma and a garlicky bite.
- Soy sauce: For the savory and umami flavor.
- Sugar: For sweetness.
- Chicken stock adds a depth of flavor. You can replace it with water for a vegan-friendly dish.
- Cornstarch: For thickening the sauce.
How to Cook Chinese Broccoli Stir Fry
The Chinese broccoli cooks quickly, so I recommend that you get your vegetables prepared and other ingredients measured before cooking. The whole dish comes together in a couple of minutes and it’s great as a last-minute side dish.
1️⃣ Trim Chinese broccoli: Clean the vegetables and trim the touch ends. Then peel the outer layer using a vegetable peeler and cut the stems into diagonal slices. (Peeling the stems gives you a more tender taste, but you can leave the skin on as it’s completely edible)
2️⃣ Blanch: Add Chinese broccoli to the boiling water and blanch for 30 seconds. Immediately remove the veggie from the boiling water and drain it well.
Why blanching before stir-frying? Blanching helps to tenderize the vegetable and retain the bright green color. In addition, it yields a more crisp texture.
3️⃣ Make the sauce by combining soy sauce, chicken stock, sugar, and cornstarch.
4️⃣ Stir fry: Add minced garlic to a hot wok with oil, and saute for 30 seconds. Add the veggie and sauce to the wok—Saute for 2 more minutes or until the Chinese broccoli is tender yet still crisp.
Tip: Chinese broccoli cooks very quickly, so be careful not to overcook it. It only takes a couple of minutes to cook after blanching. Remove it from heat as soon as it becomes tender but still slightly crisp.
That’s it! Now you have it! Easy Chinese broccoli in garlic sauce in less than 10 minutes!
Serving Chinese Broccoli
More favorite stir-fries:
- Chinese Cabbage Stir Fry
- Sriracha Shrimp
- Szechuan Style Bean Curd
- Chinese Beef Stir Fry
- Chinese Chicken with Garlic Sauce
Garlic Chinese Broccoli Recipe
- 1 pound Chinese broccoli* (sometimes it’s labeled as Gai Lan at Chinese grocery stores)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- salt to taste, more for seasoning before serving
For the Sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup chicken stock or water
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
For the stir-fry
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- salt to taste
Trim Chinese Broccoli
- First, wash your Chinse broccoli thoroughly. Cut off the tough ends of the stalk.
- Peel the outer layer: hold the stem firmly with one hand and use a vegetable peeler to peel the outer layer of the stems. Start from the thicker end and peep downwards.
- Use a knife to separate the leaves from the stems. Then hold the stem with one hand and use a sharp knife to cut the stem into diagonal slices with another hand. The thickness of the slices depends on your preference, but I usually cut them to 1/2 inch thick.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add about 1 teaspoon of oil and a pinch of salt. Add Chinese broccoli to the boiling water. Blanch for 30 seconds. (Note that you don’t need to cook the veggie completely as you’ll stir fry it later). Blanching helps to tenderize the vegetable and retain the bright green color.
- Immediately remove the veggie from the boiling water and drain it well. (Some people shock the Chinese broccoli in ice water, but I find it unnecessary.)
Make the Sauce
- Whisk soy sauce, chicken stock, sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.
- Add the blanched Chinese broccoli and the prepared sauce to the wok.
- Cook for about 2 minutes. Toss the vegetable to coat it with the sauce or until the Chinese broccoli is tender yet still crisp. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Transfer the dish to a serving plate. Serve it with rice and other proteins such as chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu.
- *Look for firm and bright green Chinese broccoli with crisp stalks.
- How to make Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce? You’ll blanch your vegetables for 1 minute and don’t need to stir fry them later. Simply add 1-2 tablespoons of oyster sauce to your sauce and cook it until hot. Drizzle onto your gai lan, and you have it: Oyster Sauce Chinese Broccoli!
- Peeling the stalk is an optional step, but if your Chinese broccoli has a thick and tough stem. It’s best to peel the our layer and cut the stems into smaller pieces.