Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hong Kong Style Kai Lan With Oyster Sauce

I am staying true to my word, so here's the first "light and healthy" post.

Kai Lan seems to be in season, judging by their strong presence at the market. Naturally, I bought my share. I have always been an advocate of eating seasonal. Eating seasonal = eating smart. You eat fresh, abundant and cheap produce. :)

I've always been intrigued with Kai Lan. It's one of the more beautiful leafy greens, in my opinion. Perhaps it's their exquisite emerald green stems. Or their thick, glossy leaves. They are always a sight to behold and a delight to eat, if cooked properly. One of my pet peeves is to eat overcooked mushy greens, or greens which have been smothered to death in gravy. Urgh.

One of the best ways to enjoy Kai Lan is to cook it Hong Kong Style. The veggies are either blanched or steamed first, then topped with a little oyster sauce. The beauty of this dish is in its simplicity - you truly get to taste the sweetness of the Kai Lan.

I found this Hong Kong Style Kai Lan recipe here. Note that it called for a pinch of baking soda to be added to the boiling water. This serves to preserve the vibrant green of the veggies. On the downside, it destroys some of the precious Vitamin C. I didn't add the baking soda, in case you're wondering.

I'd like to try this recipe with broccoli and asparagus. I think it will work too. What do you think? ;)

Recipe adapted from here
(by Amy Beh)
- 150g Kai Lan
- 5 or 6 small dried mushrooms, soaked till soft (I omitted them because I didn't have time)
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp Shao Hsing Hua Tiao cooking wine
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil

For the sauce, combine:
- 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce*
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp chicken stock granules
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar, or to taste
- Dash of pepper
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/8 tsp corn flour
* Note that I made this a vegetarian dish by omitting the chicken stock granules and oyster sauce. Instead, I used vegetarian mushroom sauce with a pinch of salt.

1. Boil half a pot of water. Add 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp cooking oil and pinch of bicarbonate of soda. Blanch Kai Lan for 30 seconds, drain and place on a serving plate.
* As I mentioned earlier, I omitted the bicarbonate of soda.

2. Heat oil in a wok and saute garlic till fragrant and golden brown. Dish up garlic and remove half the oil. Add sesame oil and cooking wine. Stir in combined sauce ingredients and mushrooms. Bring to a quick boil.

3. Pour sauce over vegetables, arrange mushrooms and sprinkle with garlic crisps.
* I added shallot crisps as well.

On a completely unrelated note, school starts on 4 January 2010. I would like to wish all students (and parents!) in Singapore a fruitful academic year. Gambatte!!!


  1. Only 150g Kai lan?? That's far from enough. I need at least 300 grams...they are so delicious!

  2. Hehehe! Angie, you are right! I tripled the amount! About 400g I cooked. And I shared it with my hubby. Just Kai Lan cooked this way and a small bowl of rice. Heaven!

  3. I love Kai Lan, but my mom said men shouldn't eat too much kai lan, I dunno why.

    Your kai lan dish looks Hong Kong to me, haha.

  4. Yes ..see I could have my whole meal just that..My husband likes more..It looks delicious..I will check at my asian market next time..when I go for the flakes:) Where I got my Pandan:)

    Looks great!

  5. Can't wait to try this - H-mart here I come.

  6. You are able to take such marvelous photos. Really magazine quality

  7. It looks delicious.
    Happy New Year.
    See soon.

  8. I love kai lan - especially in the yum cha places where they just steam it. I think this is a very similar recipe... I must try it!

  9. this looks perfect...still crunchy and not over cooked :)

  10. Sai che ho in casa della salsa di ostriche, l'ho acquistata a Venezia, volevo usarla per condire della verdura fresca, ed ora vedo che si puo' usare anche con le verdure cotte a vapore, grazie per la dritta.
    Un abbraccio Daniela.

  11. Oh, my! I wish we had veggies like that at this time of the year. We have sprouts and cabbage and endive. And parsnips.

    I love the greens in this. I could make a meal of it too. YUM!

  12. Hey a good start for the year, start healthy !

  13. YUMMMM id have any veg u cook! that looks so so good.:)

  14. I love kailan!! This type of dish is so expensive in Chinese restaurants, yet equally delish like yours when made at home =)

  15. I love Kai Lan too, and just cook this veggie by this simple way, the taste just delicious !! By just looking at your awesome photos, I'm drooling now, have to quickly run to buy some and cook this, hahaha..

  16. Oh yummy, I will make this this week, as my New Year's resolution is to only eat meat once a day, and I'm not the biggest fan of vegetables. This I would definitely eat though!

  17. I love kai lan and this is one of the ways that I love.. eating seasonal is definitely eating smart :)

  18. Dear Ju
    I wish you a happy new year and I am so happy to have met with you through the blogs !!
    let'(s keep on the good work
    cheers Pierre

  19. on a voyagé toute les deux en Asie
    ta sauce à l'aire divine
    bonne journée

  20. This looks so good - I've never had this particular green, unless I had it by another name and didn't know it. You say it's sweet - how would it compare to say, baby spinach? I must look for this!! Happy New Year!

  21. Oh Ju, this is so beautiful!

    I love the simplicity of it. I am going to look for kai lan and if I cannot find it, asparagus/ broccoli it will be.

    Happy New Year my friend! xo

  22. Living in the states, we only have HK Kailan here which we loved. People here don't eat the leaves, only the stems though. I wonder what they do with the leaves?

  23. Kai lan is my favourite veg. Your pictures capture the beauty of this veg. Love pairing it with oyster sauce too.

  24. Ju, I love this veggie very known as Chinese Broccoli...I had some the other night in a restaurant but yours looks even better...
    Yummm...I have a craving now for it just the way you describe!

  25. Your photos are always so tempting. I love the last one of the greens. Wow. Thanks for posting such a healthy, yummy meal.

  26. yum -- tasty AND healthy! gai lan is one of our favorite vegetables. hope you had a wonderful christmas and new years...looks like your 2010 is already off to a delicious start! :)

  27. Hi Ju,
    Happy new year! True to your word, you're really cooking something healthy and nutritious! Hahaha...too much over-eating during the festive seasons yah? Me too, me too! :) Thanks for sharing your KL trip photos too! Looks like it's a short, but relaxing getaway! ;)

  28. Happy new year! it's good too see everyone having light dishes after all the feasting :) your dish looks great!

  29. Love this dish. A sure good start to the new year to eat healthy. It's quite difficult to get kailan here. I was at the Chinese supermarket this morning but didn't see it. Bought a packet of Bok Choy instead.

  30. Yum!! I've made this a thousand times!! So easy and yet the result is just bravo!! My favorite way to eat vegetables besides quick stir-frying over super hot flame! SOOO Cantonese!! =D

  31. wow girl, you are keeping to your words! This is a great start!

  32. Hi, happy new year and the very best of 2010.
    I love this dish very much and yes, it is very healthy dish.
    You are very good. This dish is outstanding.
    You keep well and have a great new year, Lee.

  33. Mmmm...the kai lan looks so fresh. I never used to like it (when I was young) but my sister loved kai lan, so we by default ate it all the time. I now love it and make it all the time. Never tried adding mushrooms though.

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  34. I love Kailan! I try to do without the oyster sauce sometimes.

  35. Nothing like some good Kai Lan! My son's favourite is Yau Mak and we make it often too. Happy New Year Ju!!

  36. i can eat plate after plate of kai lan. your preparation looks perfect, just how i like it! wishing you a wonderful, happy and delicious new year, ju!

  37. I bought some today! I am having it w/ fish for dinner tonight..I printed up your recipe..and will try..maybe stir-fry? Instead of steam would that work?Can I play?:)I munched on some stalks..I bought black vinegar and Bonito Flakes too!

  38. This is the second post tonight I've seen with veggies and oyster sauce. I think it's a sign. It's one of my favourite combos and Kai lan happens to be one of my favorite Chinese veggies.

  39. This is one of my favorite recipes growing up. I could eat this everyday!

  40. We had a Ju/Zurin dinner:) Her Tofu..your KaiLan..Thank you ladies~I love greens ..You are a great team:)

  41. Hi there,
    Always love vege chinese style. Tried your recipe to the approval of my elderly mum! Thanks a zillion!
    Today im trying it with bok choy....

  42. Tried the recipe last week and my elderly mum loves it!!
    So today im trying it with bok choy.Being malay, i had to add it slice chillies to it.
    A good break from the belacan winged bean i whip up!

  43. Looks so good and easy to make.
    Makes a perfect combo with Fish.
    Thanks a lot for this receipe.