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Green veggies are a natural part of Chinese holiday meals. The Chinese words for vegetable, choy in Cantonese and cai in Mandarin, sound like the words for wealth and fortune. And with the color green, well, the prosperous associations with money are obvious. It’s no wonder that lots of big, leafy greens find their way to the banquet table.
Practically speaking, gailan makes a great side dish as part of a big meal. It’s a firm, crunchy vegetable that’s very similar in taste and texture to Western broccoli. It’s richly-colored leaves are packed with nutrients and antioxidants.
Gailan is a very common vegetable at Chinese markets. Day-to-day, it’s often a simple addition to a meal of roast pork or duck, for instance. During holiday times, you can dress up the humble gailan in all sorts of ways, like with the delicious crab meat sauce in this recipe.
Making this gailan with crab meat sauce is a simple process, making it ideal to prepare in 10-15 minutes once your more complicated dishes are nearly ready for the table. Like a lot of simple dishes, this recipe thrives on fresh, high-quality ingredients. Make sure to pick a crisp bunch of gailan at the market and use fresh crab, if your can. I’ve used canned crab below for convenience, but adding dungeness crab here Northern California, blue crab in Maryland or even stone crab in Florida would be a real winner.
Here’s how to make gailan with crab meat sauce, step-by-step. The detailed tutorial with pictures and directions is at the bottom of the page.
Your turn! What tips can you share from your family’s recipe? Want to ask a question before you start cooking? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!
Gailan with Crab Meat Sauce Recipe
Makes: 4 Servings | Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Cook Time: 5 Minutes
1 1/2 pounds gailan
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Crab Meat Sauce:
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooked crab meat
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
pinch of ground white pepper
dash of sesame oil
1. Prepare the gailan by removing any old outer leaves, keeping only the stems and tender inner shoots. Trim the young shoots from the main stems. Slice the stems diagonally and set aside.
2. In a saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil over medium heat. Boil the gailan stems for 1 minute and then add the shoots for another 10 seconds. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for 2-3 minutes. Drain and arrange the boiled gailan on a serving platter.
3. To make the crab meat sauce, bring the stock to a boil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Season with the salt, add the crab meat and egg, and mix well. Add the cornstarch solution and stir for 1 minute until the sauce thickens. Finally, add the pepper and sesame pol, mix well and remove from the heat. Pour the hot sauce over the boiled gailan and serve immediately with white rice.
Start by gathering your ingredients. One note about the gailan — the recipe requires 1 pound of the vegetable to cook. If the bunch you pick has a lot tough outer leaves, buy about 1 1/2 pounds. The total weight will fall once you start removing these leaves during preparation.
Next, prepare the gailan. Trim the stem tips and remove the tough outer leaves (the pile on the right), separate the tender inner shoots (the middle pile) and then cut the stems into diagonal pieces (the pile on the left).
This is what you’ve got after preparing the gailan. One bowl of stems on the right and one bowl of tender shoots on the left.
Boil the gailan in the salted water. Start by boiling the stems for one minute, then add the tender shoots for 10 seconds and then remove from the heat to steep for 2-3 more minutes.
Drain the gailan and arrange it on a serving platter.
Make the crab meat sauce by bringing the chicken stock to a boil and then seasoning with the salt. Add the crab meat and beaten egg, and mix well. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir for one minute until the sauce thickens. Finally, add the white pepper and sesame oil, mix well and remove from the heat.
Pour the crab meat sauce over the boiled gailan and serve immediately with white rice.
HT: Recipe adapted from Chinese Feasts & Festivals: A Cookbook.