Monday, November 17, 2014

Garlic Sesame Gai Lan with Chestnuts...

My husband and I have been really diggin’ on Chinese food lately. I think every day this week I’ve made something from Donna Klein’s “The Chinese Vegan Kitchen,” and we just can’t get enough. Asian cuisine in general is our favorite, and my husband would be quite happy to live the rest of his life on noodles and rice. So this week when we were doing our grocery shopping I found myself particularly enamored with the fresh Asian greens. The Choy’s, the Chives, the Cabbages, and then there were these huge bunches of Gai Lan that really caught my attention. Growing up in Vancouver - with Chinese food being a particular staple, I’m quite familiar with Gai Lan, but despite having eaten it at many restaurants I’ve never actually cooked it at home. Despite not knowing what exactly I was going to do with it I just couldn’t help but grab a bunch.

Gai Lan - in case you don’t already know - also goes by the name of Chinese Broccoli, and as that name would suggest it’s very similar. Though the stems are longer and thinner, and it has a lot long, flat, spinach-like leaves. The taste of Gai Lan is mild, but slightly more bitter then broccoli. Gai Lan is eaten throughout China, but is particularly common in Cantonese Cuisine. Oh, and fun fact, Broccolini - those cute little baby broccoli’s - are actually a hybrid of regular broccoli and Gai Lan. Cool right? Anyway, you can use Gai Lan in just about any way you like, stir-fry’s, soups, vegetable side dishes. You can boil it, roast it, fry it, or saute it. You can season it lightly, or drench it in a nice sauce. The possibilities are endless, but I decided to go with a very simple preparation for my lunch yesterday. I was really craving sesame and garlic and I knew that combination would taste great paired with Gai Lan. I wasn’t wrong. I also had a package of chestnuts leftover from another dish I made a while back and so I decided to toss those in too. You can leave them out if you prefer but I think they really add something to the overall dish. If you’ve never had Gai Lan I urge you to give it a try next time you see it at the market.

Just a little note about this recipe, it is not in any way meant to be a 'traditional' Chinese recipe, as you might have guessed from my use of Korean Chili Pepper, but it is delicious!

Garlic Sesame Gai Lan with Chestnuts 

1 Large Bunch Gai Len
8 Cloves Garlic Sliced thin
1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1 ½ Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Agave
3oz Roasted Chestnuts Chopped
1-2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
1/4 Gochugaru (Korean Red Chili Powder)
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste (Optional)

- Slice the ends off the stems of the Gai Lan and discard.

- Remove the stems from the leaves, set the leaves aside and slice or chop the stems.

- Heat the Sesame Oil in a large pan over the stove, when hot add in the sliced garlic and chopped Gai Lan stems. Saute on high for 5-6 minutes until garlic is golden and fragrant and stems are bright green.

- Add in the soy sauce, agave, and Gai Lan leaves. Saute for 2-3 minutes until leaves are wilted.

- Add in the Chestnuts, sesame seeds, gochugaru, and salt and pepper. Saute 1 minute.

- Remove the pan from the heat and serve with additional Sesame seeds and gochugaru if desired.

*** Note - You can make this Gluten-Free by making sure to use a Gluten-Free Soy Sauce. You can make this Soy-Free by making sure to use a soy-free sauce like Bragg's Liquid Aminos, or Coconut Aminos***

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