Thanksgiving means family and friends around a table laden with traditional food and drink. What about surprising them with some new and interesting recipes using Asian vegetables. They’ll fit right in with some of your recipes, or replace some old ones with lighter, more flavorful combinations.
Chinese broccoli or Gai Lan is the perfect pairing with grilled beef and pork, sweeter sauces, garlic and oyster sauce, or any number of Asian dishes It looks a lot like regular broccoli, but with thick, glossy stalks, large thick leaves, and small yellow flowers in the center.
A member of the Brassica family, just as Western broccoli, it’s a little more bitter than broccoli, but the stalks taste similar to broccoli stalks. It also offers a stronger broccoli flavor, though the flavors mellow somewhat when cooked.
The leaves and stalks are often cooked separately due to the length of cooking each requires.
Gai lan is consumed widely in Chinese and other Asian cuisines, the most common preparation being a stir fry by itself or with meats and other vegetables. It is also great in soups and stews.
This vegetable is high in folate, calcium, and fiber. Like regular broccoli, it is low in calories and will be a welcome addition to your recipe repertoire.
When purchasing, choose heads with full, dark green leaves and fresh stalks. Avoid any brown spots which could indicate decay. Use as soon as possible and refrigerate, unwashed in a plastic bag for no more than 2-3 days.
Try this easy and delicious recipe to start or ask FT Fresh Produce from Fresno at the Concord Farmers’ Market for expert advice. They’ll be happy to provide you with tips and more recipes. They also have a wide array of Asian specialty greens, bok choy, ginger, fresh herbs, lemon grass, longbeans, and edible leaves and shoots from which to choose.
Get out of your rut and try something new and exciting. Your palate will thank you!

Sautéed Gai Lan
2 medium cloves of garlic, chopped or sliced
1 bunch gai lan (Chinese broccoli), chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon cooking oil
Salt to taste

Wash your greens, shake them dry and chop them into bite sized pieces. Then peel and chop your garlic. Warm your pan and add the oil. When the oil is warm, add the greens and garlic together. Sauté and stir until the stems are a desirable texture, not too tough but not mushy, 5-7 minutes at medium heat. Turn the heat off and stir in the oyster sauce. Salt if desired and serve. Recipe: Chef Marisa Ades, PCFMA.