Chinese Broccoli or Gai Lan is a popular vegetable used in Chinese and other Asian cuisines. Still, suppose you recently moved to the United States from the East. In that case, you may find it difficult to always get this veggie in your nearby supermarket. Because it doesn’t sell out fast, some specialty stores only carry them in small quantities.
You may need Gai Lan in some stir fry or soup recipes if you can’t get your hands on the vegetable at that moment no need to get disappointed or frustrated. There are some alternatives to be familiar with.
What is Chinese Broccoli?
Chinese Broccoli is known by various names, including Gai Lan, Chinese kale, Kai-lan, and Jie Lan. It is a staple Chinese vegetable that originates from China. The Chinese Broccoli is a thick leafy vegetable with a dark green (almost blue) hue, and it has a thick stem and florets that are smaller than regular Broccoli.
Gai Lan is similar to Raw Broccoli, but it is more bitter and stronger than it, making that bitter broccoli taste more noticeable in most dishes it is incorporated into. The crop can be planted in late summer and harvested in early winter.
Chinese Broccoli Nutrition Facts
Uses of Chinese Broccoli in Recipes
It is majorly stir-fried with garlic and ginger in oyster sauce; it can also be boiled or steamed in soups and related dishes. The strong bitter taste is noticeable compared to Broccoli, and some recipes call for Gai Lan specifically.
Some dishes that can be made with Gail lan are listed below;
- Gai lan oyster sauce stir fry
- Stir-fried Gai lan with pork
- Chinese Broccoli with ginger, lime, and peanuts
- Chicken stir fry with Chinese Broccoli
- Beef with stir fry Gai lan
- Beef chow fun with Chinese Broccoli
- Sautéed Chinese broccoli
- Tofu and Chinese Broccoli with soba noodles
- Gai lan soup with egg
- Spicy Gai lan and bean curd soup
- Wonton soup with Gai Lan
- Chicken noodle soup
- Tom Kha Gai
- Chinese broccoli and tamarind soup
- Tantanmen Ramen
Substitutes for Chinese Broccoli
Substituting an ingredient in the kitchen when it isn’t available is quotidian. In contrast, shopping for Chinese Broccoli in America can sometimes be tedious, and this is why the use of a substitute is encouraged.
The Gai Lan has a remarkably strong bitter taste that may alter the flavor of your dish and seem harsh if you are not used to it. Some of these substitutes are milder in flavor but leafy, just like the real deal, and some are just perfect replacements for the veggie broth. Opting for one of these substitutes when you don’t have a Gai plan can save you a lot of stress.
Broccoli is the most common substitute for Gai Lan in America. This is because it is the closest to Gain lan in taste. It has a herby, earthy flavor that may also be grass-like. Broccoli has a bright green stalk and darker florets. It is a perfect substitute for Gai lan in stir fry dishes and makes a good substitute for it in other recipes.
The best part about Broccoli is that it is very easy to shop for. You can get it in any supermarket or specialty store in any part of the world. You may even have Broccoli at home, so getting one to use as a substitute when you don’t have Chinese Broccoli is pretty easy.
Use one cup of chopped Broccoli where the recipe calls for one cup of chopped Gai lan.
Rapini or broccoli rabe is a prominent vegetable in Mediterranean cuisines. It has a slightly bitter taste and can substitute for Gai Lan in almost all recipes. Every part of this vegetable is edible, that includes the stem and buds that resemble Broccoli but with a smaller head.
Rapini has a flavor described as spicy, bitter, nutty, and almond-like. Just give it a slight trim at the base and braise with olive oil and garlic for a quick stir fry. You can also use rapini as a soup or sauce ingredient, and it works well with whatever you choose. It can also be served with kinds of pasta or fried sausages. Substitute just about the same amount as Gai Lan.
Bok choy, bok Choi, or Pak Choy is a native Chinese cabbage good for stir fry dishes. It has a crunchy texture, mild bitterness, and a flavor similar to spinach. Because of the freshness it carries, it can be eaten raw or used in salads. You can also use Bok choy in soup recipes.
You can purchase Bok choy in small or large sizes (that may need to be chopped before use), it has a dense cluster of leaves that form the stem, and it doesn’t have a tight head like regular cabbages. Substitute for Bok choy is ideal when you want a mild herby flavor in your dish as it isn’t overpowering as Gai Lan. Use more Bok choy if you want a more herby flavor.
Broccolini is a hybrid of Gai lan and Broccoli. It is similar to Broccoli, but it has long, thin stalks with smaller florets. Some people even call them baby broccoli, and it has a sweet flavor compared to Chinese Broccoli. When substituting, use one cup of chopped Broccolini instead of one chopped Gai lan in any recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are the health benefits associated with Chinese Broccoli?
Chinese Broccoli is rich in nutrients, and it is a good source of vitamin E and contains vitamin C. However, Chinese Broccoli helps make the immune system stronger, and it is associated with a reduced risk of some cancers.
Is Chinese broccoli low carb?
Yes, Chinese Broccoli is low in carbohydrates, making it suitable for ketogenic diets. For example, two cups of chopped Gai lan contains 7.3g carb, 2.5g net carb, 42 calories, 2.2g protein, and 1.4g fat.
Can you eat all of the Chinese Broccoli?
Yes, but you may need to trim off about one inch of the stem from the bottom. However, if you still feel the stems are too hard, you can slice them horizontal.
If You’re trying to make a stir fry Gai lan dish, but you are in a region that is not easily accessible, there is no need to feel left out as there are plenty of suitable substitutes that can replicate that flavor and texture need.