The Monday Farmer’s Market Report: Chinese Broccoli

Img_6465_1I recently scored some Chinese broccoli at my farmer’s market. I bought it at a stand specializing in Asian ingredients like bitter melon, thai basil, bird chiles, sugar in cane form (which would appear to make a nice edible walking stick in a pinch), and about 17 different varieties of greens I can’t identify. While I’m usually of the mind that one shouldn’t sugar their vegetables, the whole olive oil, garlic, red pepper flake treatment is starting to wear a bit thin with us and the kids. I’ve been reading a lot of Asian cookbooks recently and am coming round to the idea of the benefits of a sweet/sour treatment of food in general. While Italian and French cuisines play this game here and there in savory dishes, it isn’t nearly as pronounced as in many Asian cuisines where non-dessert dishes commonly get a shot of sweet (in Thai it’s often palm sugar; in Chinese and Japanese it’s the classic cane stuff).


Sauteed Chinese Broccoli
This Chinese broccoli recipe is a good example of how sugar can be used as a counterbalancing element without tipping into a dish into the realm of treacly or sweet. The broccoli’s inherent bitterness is smoothed out by the sugar. Violet had a few bites (which is huge, considering the bitterness factor) but she didn’t fall for it instantly as she did with Tuscan black kale.

one bunch chinese broccoli, rough ends trimmed off, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
a tablespoon or so slivered ginger
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons peanut or someother neutral oil like canola, grape, or vegetable
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

-Blanch the broccoli in boiling salted water until tender then drain in a colander
-heat neutral oil (like peanut or vegetable or canola) in large sautee pan
-add garlic and ginger and let cook until fragrant
-add brocolli and sautee a few minutes
-add the sugar and cook another minute or so
-turn off heat
-add sesame oil and soy sauce
-stir and serve



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2 Responses to The Monday Farmer’s Market Report: Chinese Broccoli

  1. This sounds delicious. Two comments — you can add some sweetness (and nutrition) by replacing some of the sugar with fruit — fresh orange segments or orange juice would be nice in this dish; pineapple maybe not here, but keep in mind for future sweet & sour dishes.
    Second: expand your collection of Italian recipes, because the sweet & sour tradition (“agri dolce”) is prevalent in Sicilian and Venetian cuisine. Here is a link to a recipe for Venetian style sweet and sour shallots:

  2. Wow, the cooking way of this dish is great and easy to cook, I’ll try it later and I hope it tastes delicious. Just one suggestion: If you add some cooking pictures it will be easier to follow!

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