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Family Table

Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce

(Karoline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe)
October 21, 2009

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Serves 4

Chinese broccoli, also known as Chinese kale, is similar in taste and appearance to broccoli rabe. The thick green stalks have large leaves, and the vegetable is slightly bitter. Compared to its more common cousin, the florets are tiny. Blanching ensures that the stems are cooked through, but dry the leaves thoroughly so that when they hit the hot oil, they caramelize. We like to cook the broccoli with oyster sauce, a common Chinese seasoning, because it’s viscous and briny (both in a good way); rice wine perks up the glaze. Most of these ingredients are available at the supermarket or an Asian market. If you can’t locate Chinese broccoli, substitute any of its relatives.

Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 pound Chinese broccoli
3 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup bottled oyster sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli. Cook for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Dry on paper towels.

2. In a large wok or skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil. When it is hot, add half the broccoli. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes or until broccoli begins to brown. Remove from the pan; set aside.

3. Use 1 more teaspoon vegetable oil to cook the remaining broccoli in the same way.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch, oyster sauce, rice wine, and soy sauce.

5. Heat the wok or skillet until hot again. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. When it is hot, add the garlic and red pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, or until garlic starts to soften.

6. Add the oyster sauce mixture to the pan and bring to a boil. Return the broccoli to pan and stir well to coat it all over.

7. Let the broccoli simmer for 5 minutes or until it is cooked through. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle with sesame oil and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and black pepper, if you like.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick