The evolution of how Western broccoli infiltrated itself into Chinese-American cuisine as a replacement for ‘Gai Lan’ or Chinese broccoli is a well regarded example of how early Chinese cooks adapted traditional Cantonese dishes with the ingredients on hand in the West. Considering the unabashed abundance of rare, specialized ingredients used throughout Wallace Yee Hong’s The Chinese Cook Book, it is hard to imagine that this was the case for Hong in 1952. Hong lists this recipe as “Guy-Liang Chow Gow-Yoke,” guy-liang (or gai lan) is the Cantonese word for Chinese broccoli so I suppose there perhaps a purposeful ambiguity to which ingredient is specified for the recipe. In truth, either type would work marvellously.
In this case, I decided to use the more popularized Western broccoli that would have been more common to Americans in the 1950s. However, I’m a huge fan of Chinese broccoli as well. The flavours of this dish are straightforward and familiar but make no mistake this dish is a classic for a reason. Once more, as in the Sweet and Sour Pork, I am amazed at the incredible rewards of making this food fresh in your own kitchen. I am a far sight from being able to re-create restaurant quality dishes. But there is something fresh and vibrant about home cooking that you don’t always find in take-out.
2 cups broccoli, broken into florets
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp peanut oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced thin
1/2 lb sirloin steak, sliced thin
1 green onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (white only)
1 tsp MSG
1 tsp light soy sauce
Dash of black pepper
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ginger, minced
Dash sesame seed oil
1/4 soup stock
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp heavy soy sauce
- Blanch broccoli for 3 minutes and set aside.
- Mix together MSG, light soy sauce, sugar, black pepper to taste, rice wine, ginger, sesame oil, and 1 tbsp water. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl mix together cornstarch, heavy soy sauce, and 4 tbsp water.
- Heat peanut oil in skillet. Add salt and garlic.
- Add onions and cook for 1 minute.
- Add steak and cook for another minute.
- Add green onions and broccoli and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add ginger/rice wine sauce and cook for a minute.
- Add soup stock and bring to boil, uncovered.
- Stir cornstarch mixture and add. Stirring until thickened. Reduce heat as necessary.