Gai lan is a staple veggie in Chinese cuisine, eaten with any simple dinner. The Chinese version has more tender stalks than your standard American variety, and is healthy, nutritious and quick to grow! Here’s everything you need to know about gai lan.
Chinese Broccoli (芥蓝)
Chinese broccoli goes by a variety of names, but the most common is Gai Lan (in Cantonese) and Jie Lan (in Mandarin). These greens have broad, strong leaves and tender stalks and are usually eaten very simply in a garlic or oyster sauce.
Chinese broccoli belongs to the brassica family and is related to other green veggies like bok choy, napa cabbage, broccoli and mustard greens.
What is Gai Lan?
Gai lan is a broccoli like plant that originated in China.
It’s easy to grow, and forms crispy stalks with tender glossy blue green leaves. The veggie tastes like a cross between asparagus and broccoli, but sweeter!
If you’ve never had it, you have to try this leafy Asian green, because it’s so nutritious and easy to eat.
It’s also a great replacement for spinach or broccoli. But, unlike broccoli where the stalks are often thrown away, the whole plant of gai lan is edible. The stems are crisp and tender and stand up well to both stir fries and soups.
Chinese broccoli is rich in calcium and high in vitamin A and C.
How to Grow Chinese Broccoli
Growing Chinese broccoli is pretty easy!
Most greens will bolt in hot weather, so try these in early spring or late fall. Or if you live in a hot climate, choose a slow bolt variety.
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Chinese Broccoli Grow Guide
|Botanical Name||Brassica oleracea var. alboglabra|
|Common Name||Chinese Broccoli, Gai Lan, Guy Lan, Kai Lan, Chinese Kale|
|Mature Size||18 to 36 inches|
|Days to Harvest||55 days from seed|
|Light||Full to partial sun|
|Soil Type||Rich, well draining soil|
|Soil pH||Neutral (6.0 – 6.8)|
|Hardiness Zones||USA Zones 2-10|
|Pests||Snails, leafhoppers, cabbage aphids, cutworms|
|Diseases||Bacterial leaf spot, bacterial soft rot, club root, damping off, downy mildew|
Growing Gai Lan Hydroponically
Best Indoor Gardening Products to Grow Gai Lan
What to Look for When Buying Gai Lan
There are tons of varieties of gai lan
- a white flower version
- a yellow flower version
- regular gai lan
- baby gai lan
The white flower version is larger, and grows up to 18 inches tall while the yellow flower version is a bit shorter, around 8 inches tall. Regular gai lan is a larger, tougher version while baby gai lan is a smaller more tender variety.
I personally always like baby Asian veggies because I think the leaves and stems are more tender and tasty!
Gai lan is a very popular vegetable so you’ll find it all year round in Asian grocery stores.
Look for deep green stalks without yellow leaves and ideally no flowers. Gai lan, like most lettuces, will start to flower as it nears the end of its life span.
How long does it take to grow Kailan?
The leaves are ready to harvest in about 60 – 70 days.
Does Chinese broccoli regrow?
You can cut the stalks across the top to encourage a steady supply of new leaves. Use a sharp, clean knife and take leaves from the top 2/3 of the plant.
Or, when the first flowers appear, harvest the entire plant.
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Are Chinese broccoli flowers edible?
Yes! The flower buds on gai lan are edible.
How to Store Gai Lan
Gai lan, like most veggies, is quick to wilt.
Harvest right before cooking for maximum freshness, or refrigerate it. Place it in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge and it will keep for 3 to 5 days.
How to Cook Gai Lan
Chinese broccoli is a staple, every day type of veggie in Chinese households.
Usually, a home style meal will consist of rice with 2 to 3 dishes and one of the vegetable dishes typically is gai lan.
Cook it simply in a stir fry with garlic or quickly blanch it with an oyster sauce. Chinese broccoli is very simple to make and can be used in place of any recipes that call for broccoli or kale.
Gai Lan Recipes
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