Gai lan Gai lan is a plant that is closely related to European and Asian cabbage. It belongs to the same family and is also very similar to an Asian vegetable known as Choy Sum which differs in terms of leaves, colors, and flowers. It is commonly called Chinese broccoli. It is usually dark, bluish-green, and very firm. It is also known under several different common names such as Kai Lan, Kai Laarn, Chinese kale, or white flowering broccoli
The vegetable is believed to be native to China and was cultivated there even in ancient times. Due to its popularity, the plant was quickly introduced to neighboring countries. Thanks to intensive cultivation, many new varieties were created. Nowadays gai lan is cultivated mainly in Asia and Southeast Asia as it is a common table vegetable. It can be also found in Asian markets all over the world.
Gai lan consists of green flowering buds, very similar to broccoli. The clusters of flowering buds are usually called florets. They grow on a thick leafy stalk. In terms of taste, gai lan is quite similar to regular broccoli but its taste is milder. It is also cooked differently than normal broccoli, as the stalk is usually cooked first and leaves are just cooked until they are wilted. The texture of gai lan is almost the same as the regular broccoli that is why this vegetable is a perfect addition to salads, makes a perfect steamed side dish, is a great ingredient of stir-fry or various meat dishes. It can also be eaten raw.
It is an important ingredient used for many traditional Chinese meals. It also is used in traditional Chinese medicine and is believed to help treat anemia, sore throat as well as reduce phlegm. It also supports the proper work of many small intestines and regulates the heartbeat. Its bitter taste is often believed to help with the detoxification of the body and boost digestion.
Gai lan is a rich source of various kinds of vitamins, especially vitamins A and C, K. and B9 as well as many important elements such as calcium and folate. It is a great source of antioxidants, beta-carotene, and lutein.