Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan)


Chinese broccoli is also known as Chinese kale, white flowering broccoli, kailan, or gai lan. It has thin, pale-green coloured stems, with crisp dark blue-green leaves and small white flowers.

Chinese Broccoli

Chinese broccoli

Both the stems and the leaves are eaten. Chinese broccoli has a crisp texture and a mild, slightly bittersweet flavour. Available all year round, Chinese broccoli is often steamed whole as a side dish, or cut into pieces and added to stir fries.

To Buy

Look for Chinese broccoli with budded flowers and fresh-looking leaves.

To Store

Store Chinese broccoli in the crisper section of your fridge for 3 to 4 days

To Prepare

  • Wash Chinese broccoli in cold water.
  • If the stalks are quite thick, they may need to be peeled before cooking.
  • Trim stems and leaves, if necessary.

Tips for cooking with Chinese Broccoli

  • As an alternative to a broccoli side dish, try steaming whole Chinese broccoli until bright green and just tender. Arrange on a serving plate and drizzle with oyster sauce. ( See Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce)
  • For a fresh stir fry, cut Chinese broccoli leaves and stems into pieces then blanch until bright green. Stir fry sliced button mushrooms, diced red chilli and crushed garlic then add Chinese broccoli pieces. Toss together with cooked shredded chicken then drizzle with soy or sweet chilli sauce.
  • Another easy recipe to try is Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) with Toasted Garlic

Substitutes for Chinese Broccoli

Key Nutrients

Chinese Broccoli Nutrition – Click to enlarge

Chinese broccoli is a nutrient dense food which is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. Chinese broccoli is also a great source of folic acid, and has a very high amount of dietary fibre.

Health Benefits

  • Vitamin A – Vitamin A, when converted into retinaldehyde, is a vital compound for healthy eyes. Furthermore, vitamin A is believed to fight against cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma. Vitamin A strengthens the membranes of the human body such as mucous membranes, respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts. It is also essential for the lymphocytes, or white blood cells, that fight infection once in the body.
  • Vitamin C – Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infections and scavenges harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals. Vitamin C also helps to prevent respiratory problems such as asthma and lung cancer. Vitamin C has been shown to lower blood pressure, and therefore lessen the probability of hypertension.
  • Vitamin K – Vitamin-K plays an important role in bone metabolism by promoting osteotrophic activity in bone cells. Vitamin K also acts to clot open wounds and prevent excessive bleeding. Healthy vitamin K levels lower the release of the glycoprotein interleukin-6, a marker of inflammation within the body.
  • Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12, or folic acid, helps to preserve neurological function and DNA synthesis. It also plays a key role in the health of red blood cells. The nervous system relies on vitamin B12 for proper function as well.
  • Dietary Fibre – Dietary fibre stimulates digestion and peristalsis, helping to relieve indigestion and constipation problems.

Other Names

  • English: Chinese kale, white flowering broccoli, kailan
  • Chinese: gai lan, gaai laan, kai laan, kailan, jie lan, kai lan tsoi, gelancai, chair lan
  • Danish: kailan-kal
  • Dutch: kailan
  • Filipino: gailon
  • French: kailan
  • Japanese: kairan
  • Laotian: phakkhana
  • Malay: kai lan
  • Portuguese: kailan
  • Thai: phakkhana
  • Vietnamese: cai rô

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