poached kai lan (Chinese broccoli) with oyster sauce

poached kai lan with oyster sauce

It is weird to have a recipe for something so simple (yet delicious), but I thought I would share my cheat recipe for this dish.

Many people order this dish at a Chinese restaurant and some places nail it, most don’t. The kai lan is either too oily, overcooked, or there is too much sauce. Rest assured, the way to delicious and possibly healthier poached kai lan is not too hard.

The hubs and I like our poached kai lan crisp, not limp, and the amount of sauce just enough to add some flavor but not overwhelm the kai lan taste. We also do not like our kai lan oily (eww). To poach the kai lan, many people add sugar or baking powder to the simmering water. We just use plain water and  it has worked out well for us. The pièce de résistance of this dish for me is the fried shallots that top this dish. We either make them fresh or use our precious fried shallots we cart back from Singapore. For some weird reason, we haven’t been able to find fragrant fried shallots here. If you don’t have shallots on hand, you can also fry some garlic and drizzle the garlic along with some of the frying oil atop the poached kai lan. The “cheat” part of this dish is the sauce, which is a simple mixture of oyster sauce and sesame oil. I find that just putting oyster sauce on the kai lan is a little overwhelming. The sesame oil gives it a nicer flavor and consistency.

This dish goes great with any Chinese meal (in my opinion) and is a quick, easy and healthier way to whip up some vegetables since very little oil is used.

Poached Kai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) with Oyster Sauce


  • 1/2 pound of kai lan, washed and trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Fried shallots (for garnishing) (to make your own fried shallots, thinly slice shallots and deep fry them in oil, drain and set aside) OR fried garlic
  • Water, for poaching


  1. Bring water to boil in pot. When water is boiling, turn down heat to medium high. Working quickly, cook the kai lan for about 1 minute in the water. I do this in small batches.
  2. Remove from water and place it on the serving plate. Technically, you can also submerge the kai lan into ice water to stop it from cooking, but I work fast enough and my kai lan has never been limp.
  3. When kai lan is all poached, mix the oyster sauce and sesame oil together. If the sauce is too thick, you can add a bit of hot water. Spoon sauce over the kai lan.
  4. Garnish with fried shallots or garlic and serve warm.
1 comment
  1. lmjapan said:

    I love kai lan, I always order it at my favorite Chinese restaurant. Although they make it really well, it’s always good to know how to make it at home. Thanks for posting this recipe!

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