Kai Lan / Chinese Flowering Kale (芥蘭)
Kai Lan is an indigenous vegtable to southern China, and is also known by other names such as ‘Chinese Broccoli’ and ‘Chinese Kale.’ It is part of the mustard family, and shares similarities to Western Broccoli. Typically, Kai Lan is recognizable by its green-blue, thick and flat oval leaves and its thick stems. Additionally, the Kai Lan also grows small flowers, similar to broccoli. On average, this vegetable can grow up to 40 cm in diameter, and over 45cm in height. Kai Lan is available throughout the year, but most delicious and abundant during the late spring and summer, from between April to October.
Kai Lan is known for it’s interesting flavours. Overall, the taste is a distinctive mixture between bitter and sweet. The preparation involves soaking the vegetable in water as to remove any excess dirt, removing the leaves and chopping as desired, and peeling the stems and skin and chopping them into any shape sought-after. Ultimately, the preparation process is similar to that of its counterpart, broccoli.
This vegetable can be cooked in various ways, including steaming, frying or boiling them, but one must make sure that they lightly cook the Kai Lan as not to ruin the freshness and are best cooked along side ginger, sugar and some Chinese rice wine. Within traditional Chinese cusine, the Kai Lanis often stir-fried with ginger and garlic, and is often served alongside oyster sauce. Furthermore, why not try juking Kai Lan, or adding it into your salad. The nutritional values of the Kai Lan are sky high, and many believe it to be the next ‘super food.’