How about the "Chinese Kale" Revolution?

Monday, November 25, 2013

By now, you would have heard of the Kale Revolution.

Kale - Picture from here
Juice it, steamed it, salad it and just stuff it raw into your mouth. It is the superfood which will cure your cancer ,anxieties, prevent strokes and strengthen your bones.

It is the vegetable equivalent of chia seeds. Like bees to honey, the Kale Revolution attracts those who treat food like medicine. Never mind the price as it is an imported veg. Or that it can make for awful eating if eaten raw or cooked the wrong way.

Kai Lan is called Chinese Kale.

It is nutritious enough though it can hardly be labelled a superfood. If it receives the same health media attention, soon our wives will be forcing us to drink Kai Lan juice in the morning and chew raw ones in the evening.

Thankfully, most of us love Kai Lan and eat it regularly, at home or in restaurants. Never raw but at least lightly blanched or a quick stir-fry. If you source for good ones and cook them right, they are crunchy, sweet and not overly bitter. For me, the thick stems are the best parts of the Kai Lan. Love the crunch.

Baked Kale Chips is a popular way of cooking this superfood, and not surprisingly, deep fried Kai Lan leaves are getting popular too. Check out this gorgeous recipe of Kai Lan cooked two ways. I will definitely making this the next time round.

This batch of Kai Lan (from China) has florets.
Makes for great eating
I bought a bunch recently from Loon, my favourite veg supplier (The Green Harvest), at his recommendation.

If you like Kai Lan the way restaurants do it, then blanching and shocking it before pouring in the sauce in will be the normal way to go.

First you have to peel off the tough bits of skin on the thick stems.

I like to tie up the Kai Lan before blanching for easier handling and better presentation. In boiling salted water in a wok or deep pot, blanch a bunch for about 4 minutes. Then cool it immediately in a bowl of cold water.

Shake or squeeze off excess water and place it neatly on a plate. Use a pair of scissors to cut off the string and the bunch into half.

As for the sauce, you can prepare this as you blanch the Kai Lan.

In a heated pan, add some oil, sugar and oyster sauce in that order. Add dashes of fish sauce if you like. Taste and adjust if you need to. You won't need to heat and stir the sauce for more than a minute. Pour over the blanched Kai Lan.

Garnish with some fried shallots. Serve immediately. Best eaten with a pair of chopsticks.

It is a simple dish. And I suggest you cook it this way and get your family to like it before they get the idea of juicing it or eating it raw, the way they are doing to Kale. I know blanching may lead to some lost in nutrition but we need to find the enjoyment in eating it (which means we will eat it even more) instead of treating it like medicine.

As for starting a Chinese Kale or Kai Lan Revolution, locals will think you mad. It is quietly ubiquitous and is already a part of our food culture. It does not need any media attention nor cookbooks (like "The Fifty Shades of Kale") dedicated to it.

If you find Kale too expensive, think of it's "Chinese" counterpart. It is nutritious and cheap. Cook more Kai Lan dishes.

Just don't let anyone force you to juice it or eat it raw.

Tie and bunch up  the Kailan before you blanch.  

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  1. Thank you for the wonderful tip of tying the veg up before boiling them. Topped with garlic oil, yummy!

  2. any guide on making crispy fried shallot?

  3. Slow fire at first, then increase towards the end.