Monday, 31 March 2008

Kailan (Chinese broccoli) in oyster sauce

Purple sprouting broccoli is on the menu for this month's In The Bag event and I thought this dish would make a nice contribution. Unfortunately by the time I got round to buying the ingredients, all the purple sprouting broccoli that I saw in my shops were looking distinctively sad. I didn't want to waste good money on vegetables that are pass their prime when there are lots of other fresh produce on offer, so unfortunately I had to pass on this month's event (yet again!).

Kailan in oyster sauce 2

I did get some kailan though and proceeded with this dish anyway. Kailan is also known as Chinese broccoli and you can see the resemblance with the sprouting flowers and long chunky stalks. Vegetables in oyster sauce in the style served in Chinese restaurants are delicious but couldn't be easier to make at home. All you need is a good bottle of oyster sauce. It is a thick sauce that is kind of sweet, made with oyster extract. Don't worry, it tastes a lot better than it sounds, and it's a fantastic store cupboard staple (although it should be kept in the fridge after opening), a magic ingredient to turn any stir fry into a fabulous dish. Use in place of soy sauce. The brand I use is Panda brand or Lee Kum Kee brand (it's the same, depends on which words are bigger on the label) - trusted by generations of mothers, grandmothers and aunties back home. You can buy vegetarian oyster sauce too (usually with pictures of mushrooms on the label).

Panda brand oyster sauce
(Photo taken from The Perfect Pantry)


(Serves 2 as a side dish)

10 stalks of kailan (or purple sprouting broccoli)
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp oyster sauce
A few drops of sesame oil (optional)


1. Wash the kailan and separate the leafy stalks if they are too large or bunchy. Cook in a large pan of water to the boil for about 4 minutes until the thick stems are just tender. **Do not overcook!** You want the vegetables to maintain a slight crunch.
2. While the vegetables are boiling, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a small pan and fry the shallots over medium heat until caramelised and golden brown. Stir frequently to make sure that the onions don't burn.
3. When the vegetables are cooked, drain the hot water and rinse them briefly under cold water (to stop further cooking). Lay out on a dish and drizzle over the oyster sauce. Finish with the shallot oil, fried shallots and sesame oil on top and serve. Mix the kailan and sauce together and tuck in.

Kailan in oyster sauce 1

- You can use this method on other types of leafy vegetables such as normal broccoli, choy sum and bak choy. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly - dense broccoli florets will need to cook slighter longer than choy sum with their thin stalks.
- You can also do with with garlic rather than shallots, as demonstrated by Rasa Malaysia.


Kevin said...

That looks simple and tasty. This is the first that I have heard of kailan. I will have to look for some.

ladonisbleu said...

As simple as this dish is, this post made me seriously miss homecooked chinese food. T_T

Julia said...

Oh that's a shame about the purple sprouting broccoli, but I have to say this looks absolutely delicious!

Maya said...

That Lee Kum Kee sauce is a staple in my mom's kitchen.
And I love Kailan! Fab pics :)

Little Corner of Mine said...

I love LKK oyster sauce. It makes my everyday stir-fry easy and tasty. Your kailan looks perfect by the way.

wiffygal said...

I'm using LKK oyster sauce too. This is an easy and delicious dish. Nice piccie! :)

Nilmandra said...

Kevin: The closest I have seen this is broccoli stems or sprouting broccoli in major supermarkets. I only see this in Oriental stores around here.

ladonisbleu: I know what you mean. It's something that my parents cooked a lot when I was at home :) It's so easy to make though.

Julia: Thanks! I'll have to get my hands on some purple broccoli anyway to see if they taste any different ;)

Maya: Yeah, it's *the* oyster sauce to use!

Little corner: It's a good thing that LKK exports around the world!

Wiffygal: Thanks. No other oyster sauce would do for me!

Su-Lin said...

Lee Kum Kee also make a premium oyster sauce (it has more oyster in it) that's my usual oyster sauce. Tasty stuff! When I'm lazy (and that's often), it's just a quick blanching of the veg and just oyster sauce on top!

ladonisbleu said...

haha, very true, as a clownfish nemo probably wouldn't taste as good as a carp.
i didn't realize you lived in the uk! how jealous i am now.

Nilmandra said...

Su-lin: I love it even when I'm not feeling lazy ;) Thanks for the tip on the premium brand. I've seen it before but wasn't sure if it's worth the extra cost. I'll try it for my next bottle.

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