RECIPE: How to Cook Gai Lan 芥蘭 Restaurant-Style

Feb 21, 2017Recipes

 This is post 2 out of 3 in my How to Cook [ Insert Asian Vegetable ] Recipe Blog Series.


Gai Lan 芥蘭 (simplified: 芥兰), also known as Chinese broccoli or kale. Literal translation is “mustard orchid.” It’s always funny when you try to learn things in different languages and learn the literal meaning of words. They almost never directly translate correctly!

Trying to make sense of unfamiliar translations in my head is the story of my life. I think it’s why in practice and as a Dietetic Intern, I always had greater understanding for ESL patients and clients (no matter where they are from). I am Canadian-born with immigrant parents, and as I age, I appreciate more and more how difficult it must have been for my (then) young parents (who met here in Toronto) to make a life for themselves together in a new world.

As I get older, I also appreciate more how there is much to learn about my heritage and culture. These days it is about writing and language. Fyi, I am old enough to have learned traditional Chinese characters instead of simplified (Wowee, how times are changing…)!

Speaking of learning languages, I am also trying to make sense of Vietnamese among my in-laws and extended family these days, which is another story all together 😉

I have memories as a child eating Gai Lan 芥蘭 with my big sister, who was obsessed with it because it was green – her favourite colour. She munched on it all the time during supper. At the time, I thought, what a weirdo. I didn’t understand it back then.

​But now I do. Recipe please!


RECIPE :: Gai Lan 芥蘭 Restaurant-Style

serves 4


1 lb, gai lan 芥蘭, washed
1 Tbsp Oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp oyster sauce
3 Tbsp water
2 tsp sugar


  1. Trim 1-2 cm off the bottom of the stalks. Similar to asparagus, you want to remove the hard bottoms.
  2. Boil gai lan for about 4-5 minutes until tender-crisp and bright green. Drain and set aside on a serving plate.
  3. In a wok or skillet (with a large surface area), heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.
  4. Add oyster sauce, water, sugar. Stir until heated through and bubbly.
  5. Pour the sauce on the gai lan 芥蘭 and serve.

Nutrition Information (per 1/2 cup)

Calories 75 kcal | Fat 4 g | Saturated Fat 0.5 g | Protein 1 g | Carbohydrate 5 g | Sodium 375 mg | Fibre 1 g | Sugar 2 g

Meet Michelle

Welcome, I'm Michelle! I'm a TV and digital media registered dietitian and Asian cuisine content creator based out of Hamilton, ON Canada!


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