Chinese broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, which means it is related to the broccoli most people are familiar with, but it is a little different.
What is Chinese broccoli? It is packed with nutrients and is a really healthy leafy green. It’s probably the healthiest of all the traditional Chinese veggies, and it comes in a few different sizes. You can find Chinese broccoli that has really thick stems as well as some that has soft and thin stems.
Those softer, smaller ones are younger, so if you like yours to be thick and hardy, just wait to get them until when they mature.
This broccoli should be bright green in color when it is fresh. It’s usually thicker and stronger than regular broccoli, though the florets are much smaller. It also has large, flat-looking leaves.
How to Prepare Chinese Broccoli
Whenever you are working with green leafy veggies like Chinese broccoli, you should be washing them thoroughly before cooking them up.
I wash mine three or four times, which can seem like a lot, but you want to ensure that you get off all of the pesticides they might have been treated with, as well as any dirt particles or bugs that may be embedded beneath the leaves.
Wash them under cold, running water and scrub them clean with your hands, making sure to work through all of the leaves and florets thoroughly.
How to Cook Chinese Broccoli
You can cook up Chinese broccoli using a wok, which is the traditional way, or you can use a deep skillet or cooking pan. Even a pot will work, though it might not be as convenient to work with.
How to make Chinese broccoli? I cook it up on the stove, and I will share my method with you.
Start by prepping the Chinese broccoli. The broccoli needs to be washed, of course, and then left to soak for about 8 minutes in water. Then, cut away the ends of the broccoli. That would be the tough, hardy tips, and you may want to cut away or peel away the outer layer of stem.
Some pieces of Chinese broccoli can be really tough, and removing the outer part of the stem can be essential to making them pleasant and easy to eat.
From there, cut the stalks into pieces that are just a couple of inches long- about 2 inches or so.
Prepare your seasoning mix by combining white pepper, msg, salt, and sugar. It’s good to have all of these prepared and mixed ahead of time so that the mixture is nearby when you are cooking.
Prepare the wok or skillet by heating it up to medium high. If you are using a wok, you can heat it until it begins to smoke. Add in slices of ginger and garlic once the wok starts smoking. Cook them for just about 12 seconds, as that is all it takes for them to caramelize and become fragrant.
Add in the Chinese broccoli next, and then use the spatula to coat the broccoli, ginger, and garlic.
Turn up the heat so that it is set to high and add a few dashes of rice vinegar or rice wine to the edge of the wok. Move all of your broccoli to the center of the wok at that point, making a pile of them.
Then, cover the wok and let it steam for about a minute. This cooks the veggies really well and really heats up the sides of the wok too. Take off the wok lid and move the broccoli to the sides of the wok.
You will probably want to hold into the handles on the side of the wok while you do that so that wok stays in one place.
Now, you are ready to add in the white pepper, msg, sugar, and salt. Stir fry your seasonings with the veggies for about 30 seconds, making sure everything is well coated and mixed. The veggies might be looking a bit dry at that point, and you can add a dash or two of water (or beef stock), if necessary.
Make sure the Chinese broccoli is tender before you finish with it in the wok, and then you can serve it up as a side dish to go with noodles or rice.
How to Make Chinese Chicken and Broccoli
One of my favorite combinations to make with Chinese broccoli is adding chicken to it. I use small cubes or slices of chicken breast meat and cook them up with the broccoli in the wok.
To give everything a wonderful, unified chicken flavor, I use a little chicken broth in place of rice wine or rice vinegar. If the chicken or broccoli look too dry as they are cooking, I just add a dash or two of chicken broth to the wok.
How to Make Chinese Beef and Broccoli
For this combo, I do the same as if I were cooking the broccoli with chicken. The difference is that the beef may take longer to cook, so I might add that to the wok first off. I also change out chicken broth for beef broth or beef stock to give the dish a bolder, beefier flavor.
How to Make Chinese Shrimp and Broccoli
When making this variation, I put in the shrimp only during the last few minutes I am cooking the broccoli. The shrimp cooks really quickly, and you know it’s done cooking when it starts to change color.
You can use chicken broth with this, if you like, and it can be cooked with rice vinegar as well to keep things from drying out. I like to top this dish with shrimp sauce when it’s done cooking.
How to Grow Chinese Broccoli
Chinese broccoli isn’t very difficult to grow, and you can plant it in early spring, once the climate isn’t very mild. It can be planted any time of year when the ground isn’t frozen. Put the seeds about 1/4 inch deep into the soil and spread them out about a foot and a half to two feet apart.
Add a little compost to help them grow better, and you should start seeing seedlings pretty soon.