A vegetable consisting of green clusters of flowering buds, known as florets, which grow on a thick leafy stalk. Often referred to as Chinese broccoli, this broccoli is similar to regular broccoli but milder in taste and grown on a longer stalk. The stalks and leaves are often cooked separately, cooking the stalks first, until tender and the leaves until wilted. Its texture when raw or cooked is the same as regular broccoli, making it ideal to use raw in salads, steam cooked as a side dish, as an ingredient in a vegetable stir-fry, a meat stir-fry, or added to other cooked dishes. The leaves, stalks and florets can be eaten raw or used in a wide variety of salads, side dishes and main dishes.
Gai lan belongs to the cabbage family and is most closely related to the Chinese or European cabbage. It may be confused with a similar Asian vegetable, known as Choy Sum, which has a yellow flower on the bud and slightly thinner leaves that are pale green instead of bluish-green in color. When selecting, buy broccoli that is dark green in color (Romanesco and broccoflower excluded, each being lighter green in color) and very firm. Gai Lan is also known as Gailan, Gai Laan, Gaii Lan, Gai Larn, Gai Lon, Gai Lum, Kai Lan, Kai Laarn, Kairan, Chinese kale, white flowering broccoli, or Chinese broccoli.