Sunday 14 September 2014


I was lucky to have a good health visitor when I was bringing up my babies. A health visitor, for those not in the UK, is a health professional who guides Mums on how to take care of their babies.

The first time I had to give solids to my daughter, I was very apprehensive. The health visitor gave very clear and simple advice that made perfect sense. Teach the baby the taste of pure food. Just one kind of food at a time, and no salt nor sugar. Of course the first to be given was baby rice, then root vegetables, then other vegetables. Being not a vegetable lover myself, I was very surprised at how my baby enjoyed pure pureed broccoli. That early lesson in life taught her how wholesome food tastes like. Now a young lady, she loves her greens so much. 

Gai lan (also called kai lan) is one of her favourites. We have to buy this at the Oriental supermarket. Gai lan is defined as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale. The taste is a cross between English broccoli and kale. It costs a lot more than English greens but the taste is worth its price.

I always see people order this at restaurants and I do understand that indeed it is enjoyable to eat. My point is that it is so much cheaper to prepare at home and once you've read the recipe below you will realise how easy it is and will probably always cook it yourself. Other green vegetables such as choi sam, bok choi or broccoli (especially the tender stem broccoli) are also delicious prepared this way.


300 gms. gai lan
2 1/2 tbsps. cooking oil
3 large cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsps. oyster sauce
1 tsp. sugar


Choose gai lan that are small with perky looking leaves. The big ones are quite tough. If the stalks are too tough, shave off the outer skin with a vegetable peeler. Trim off the ends of the gai lan.

Wash the gai lan and arrange in a wok or pan. Top up with cold water just to reach halfway up its side. 

Turn the heat on medium and put a lid on the wok or pan. Bring to a boil then simmer for about one minute. Test for doneness by pricking the stalk with the tip of a knife. It should go through easily. Do not over cook. Gai lan tastes best when just crisp tender.

Put the gai lan in a colander to drain off the water. Immediately pass through running water briefly just to stop the cooking process. The gai lan should still be  warm.

Heat up a clean wok or pan. When hot, add the cooking oil. Add the garlic slices and stir fry on medium heat until golden in colour. Skim off with allotted spoon and transfer to a plate. Set aside.

Add the oyster sauce and sugar to the oil in the pan. Add the gai lan and stir just until coated with the sauce. Do not overcook.

Transfer to a serving dish and top with the fried garlic.

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