During our vacation in Taiwan I discovered that I really liked the cuisine: high quality fresh ingredients, prepared simply but skillfully to allow the flavor of the ingredients to shine. Vegetables were often prepared very simply: stir fried with a lot of garlic and a bit of chilli and then steamed by adding water. Sometimes ginger is added, or dried shrimp, or some strips of pork.
Not all the Taiwanese vegetables are available here, but gai lan comes pretty close to the type of leafy vegetables we’ve had on numerous occasions in Taiwanese restaurants. Gai lan is also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale. Like kale and broccoli it is from the large cabbage family and to me seems like halfway between broccoli and bok choy. Here’s my take on stir fried gai lan with garlic and chilli.
oil for stir frying
Gai lan has quite thick stems that take longer to cook then the leaves. Separate the leaves from the thick stems, and break off the stems from the leaves.
Slice the thick stems.
Heat oil in a wok and add chopped ginger and sliced chilli. Stir fry for a minute, but do not let the garlic turn brown.
Add the sliced stems and stir fry for 2 minutes.
Add the thinner stems and stir fry for another minute.
Now add the leaves.
Stir fry until the leaves start to wilt.
Season with salt and add some water. I noticed that in Taiwan the vegetables were always served sitting in a lot of water — I prefer to use less water.
Cover the wok so the gai lan can steam.
Allow to steam until the gai lan stems are tender but still firm to the bite. If you cook them for too long, they will become limp and lose their fresh flavor. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Serve at once.
Celeriac gnocchi with smoked salmon is an original dish I created because I had some leftover trimmings from the salmon that I smoked. The earthy flavor of the celeriac works well with the smokiness of the salmon.