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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Kailan (Chinese Broccoli) with Oyster Sauce 蚝油芥兰

Easily one of the few very popular vegetable dishes well known to everyone but certainly not limited to just the Asian community in particular, this kailan in oyster sauce is a common sight almost everywhere and especially so in Hong Kong where they are served in almost every restaurant from a small local coffee shop right to any huge renowned restaurants. A plate of kai lan briefly but perfectly blanched or steamed retaining their crunchy texture and their natural vibrant green color, this is one restaurant-quality plate of vegetables that can easily be created within the comfort zone of your home with some time and practice. While I personally may not be a huge huge fan of the oyster sauce in particular, this beautiful serving of green is still one that I do enjoy making once in a while; kailan and oyster sauce - they somehow seems just so inseparable, one that fits the line "a match made in heaven".

But despite the name, it takes more than just the oyster sauce to make this a perfect dish everyone will adore, a point that was only made known to me with some not-so-pleasant experiences - oh yea, I sure did learn it the hard way lol. As much as the oyster sauce makes the key to defining the sauce, it itself does not do much of a good thing when used standing alone. Rather, the appetizing savory gravy with a tad of sweetness in it is actually a specially concocted gravy combining this oyster sauce and a couple other simple yet essential ingredients. Topped with some fried garlic and crispy fried shallots adding some depth and giving this dish its unique flavor and aroma, this is a plate of our vital greens that when done right may even top those pricey ones served in restaurants.

Kailan (Chinese Broccoli) with Oyster Sauce 蚝油芥兰
Serves 2-3
1/2lb kailan (preferably smaller and younger shoots)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsps cooking oil
2 tbsps crispy fried shallots for garnishing, recipe here
some sprinkles of salt for steaming

Oyster sauce mixture
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp sugar
tbsps water
1/2 tsp corn flour 
a dash or two of white pepper powder

1. Lightly trim the ends of the kailan stalks, removing especially the fibrous sections. If the kailan shoot come in a considerably huge size, have the stalks halved lengthwise to make eating more manageable when served later. Rinse thoroughly and drain.
2. To prepare the fried garlic, heat a small saucepan with the cooking oil. Once well heated, turn the heat down to medium-low and add in the minced garlic. Stir regularly to ensure even heat distribution. Once it shows a tinge of browning, it does not take much longer before they are done. Keep stirring until they turn golden brown on the whole. Remove from heat and transfer to a heat-proof bowl.  

3. Have the steamer ready for steaming. Meanwhile, have the ingredients for the oyster sauce mixture all mixed up in a small bowl. Set aside.
4. Working in batches, arrange the kailan in a single layer. Lightly sprinkle some salts over the vegetables and put them to steam for about 3 to 4 minutes until they are tender-crisp. You may have to adjust the steaming time to suit the size of your batch of kailan. They are ready when they start turning translucent while retaining a vibrant green color still. 
5. Meanwhile, bring the oyster sauce mixture to a gentle heat in a small saucepan. Keep heated until the sugar dissolves completely and the sauce slightly thickened, right until the vegetables are ready.
6. Transfer the steamed kailan to a serving plate, arranging them nicely. Carefully pour the oyster sauce mixture all over the vegetables, distributing them evenly throughout the plate of greens.
7. Top with the fried garlic followed by the crispy fried shallots. Serve hot.


  1. Nice touch with the fried shallots! Oyster kailan is such a delicious and easy to make dish! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Yi, thanks for dropping by! This coming from you is truly encouraging!

  2. I tried your method...yes the greens are crunchy but its bitter.


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