Learn how to cook Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) with the perfect crunch! Super easy to make this popular nutritious vegetable dish served in many Chinese restaurants. 4 simple ingredients to perfectly cook this deliciously crunchy, juicy Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce.
Some readers have been asking us what is the best way to cook Gai Lan in Instant Pot.
Since Chinese Broccoli is quite delicate, just like our Instant Pot Shrimp Recipe, the best way to cook them in the Instant Pot is not through pressure cooking.
So, we’re featuring another awesome way to use the Saute function with this simple & tasty recipe!
What is Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan)?
Chinese Broccoli is also known as Gai Lan (Chinese: 芥蘭) or Chinese kale. It’s a green leafy vegetable with thick, flat leaves, with some small florets, and long, thick stems.
Flavors & Texture: Gai Lan has a strong distinct flavor profile. It’s sweet, and the leaves can sometimes have a teeny bit of “spicy” & bitter flavors. These distinct flavors may turn some people away, so it’s important to cook them properly!
For many, the stems are the prized part. When cooked properly, the stems are tender, yet crisp-crunchy, not hard or chewy, juicy, and flavorful.
Nutrition: Gai Lan is one of the most nutritious vegetables. It’s low in calories, and rich in calcium, iron, antioxidants including vitamin A and C, and high in fiber.
It’s a very popular leafy green vegetable in Chinese cuisine. Often served in many Chinese restaurants including dim sum time!
Tips for Buying Gai Lan
For best results, it’s very important to use fresh Gai Lan that is deep bright emerald green, with shorter “snappable” stems, and smaller florets. Avoid Gai Lan with dull, wilted leaves, yellow florets, and dried hard stems.
Some people prefer thicker stems, while others prefer Baby Chinese Broccoli (Chinese: 芥蘭苗), which is smaller, more tender, and sweeter in taste.
Gai Lan vs. Choy Sum vs. Gai Choy: Gai Lan is often easily mixed up with Choy Sum (Chinese: 菜心) or Chinese Mustard Greens (Chinse: 芥菜). But they’re very different in taste, texture, and appearances.
Fun Fact: Broccolini is a hybrid between Broccoli and Gai Lan. Broccolini has similar flavors to broccoli but similar stems to Gai Lan.
How to Cook Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan)?
Ingredients: It’s a very simple, nutritious, yet delicious vegetable dish. All you need are 4 ingredients – Chinese broccoli, water, salt, and oil. You can serve this Gai Lan with oyster sauce on the side or drizzle it on top.
Cooking Time: You only need 3 to 5 minutes to perfectly cook Chinese Broccoli.
Special Equipment: You can use an Instant Pot or simply a pot on the stove.
Ease Level – Super Easy: It’s super easy to cook with minimal preparation and minimal ingredients, basic cooking skills & cooking equipment. Yet it’s still tasty, satisfying & nutritious!
Cooking Tips: It’s a very simple dish to cook, yet it’s easy to undercook or overcook Gai Lan. If it’s undercooked, the stems can be hard and it may taste a bit bitter. If it’s overcooked, it can become soggy, bland, chewy, stringy, losing that satisfying crisp-crunch texture. So be sure to follow our techniques below to enjoy some perfectly cooked Gai Lan!
Step-by-Step Guide: Chinese Broccoli
Here are the ingredients for cooking Gai Lan or Chinese Broccoli in Instant Pot:
You just need Gai Lan, salt, oil, and water!
Tools for Cooking Gai Lan
Wash Chinese Broccoli
First, rinse Gai Lan under cold water.
*Pro Tip: We usually trim the end of the stems. You can remove the flowers as well, but they’re entirely edible and quite yummy.
Finally, drain the Gai Lan well.
Cook Chinese Broccoli in Instant Pot
First, add 8 cups (2L) water in the Instant Pot with 1 tbsp (18g) fine salt and 1 tbsp (15ml) peanut oil or olive oil.
Bring the water to a rolling boil using the “Saute More” function.
*Pro Tip: You can use hot water or cook it on the stovetop to save time.
Now, press the “Saute” button to “Sauté More” to heat up the Instant Pot.
Once the water boils, add Chinese Broccoli in Instant Pot so only the stems are submerged in the boiling water (as shown in the picture below).
Depending on the stems’ thickness, cook the Gai Lan for 2 – 3 minutes.
Finally, fully submerge the Gai Lan in the boiling water, then cook for another 1 – 2 minutes.
Drain & Serve Gai Lan
Ta da! Your deliciously flavorful & crunchy-crisp Chinese Broccoli is done.
Drain well and serve with optional oyster sauce.
Enjoy your deliciously flavorful Chinese Broccoli!
Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) 蠔油芥籣
- Wash Chinese Broccoli: Rinse Gai Lan under cold water, then drain well. We usually trim the end of the stems. You can remove the flowers, but they are edible and yummy.
- Cook Chinese Broccoli: Add 8 cups (2L) water in Instant Pot with 1 tbsp (18g) fine salt and 1 tbsp (15ml) peanut oil or olive oil. Bring the water to a rolling boil using the “Saute More” function. *Pro Tip: You can use hot water or cook it on the stovetop to save time. Press “Saute” button to “Sauté More” to heat up the Instant Pot. Once the water boils, add Chinese Broccoli in Instant Pot where only the stems are submerged in the boiling water. Depending on the stems’ thickness, cook the Gai Lan for 2 – 3 minutes. Then, fully submerge the Gai Lan in the boiling water, then cook for another 1 – 2 minutes.
- Drain & Serve: Your crunchy-crisp & juicy Chinese Broccoli is done. Drain well, then serve Chinese Broccoli with oyster sauce (optional).