Simply Delicious: Gai-Lon

File photo.
File photo.

Welcome to the new era of Ontario produce. As the ethnic landscape of our province changes, so is some of the food we’re growing. Many farmers in Ontario are growing fruits and vegetables from their native countries. In this week’s Simply Delicious, Susan Hay and Mark McEwan prepare a savoury dish with the chinese broccoli, Gai-Lon.

Gai-lon with Anchovy and Chilies

Recipe by: Mark McEwan

2lbs. Chinese Broccoli

4 anchovy fillets in oil

6tsp. olive oil

1 calabrian chili, finely sliced


Freshly ground black pepper

Clean broccoli and separate into small florets.

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Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and simmer florets for 4 to 6 minutes until just tender.

Rinse anchovies in cold running water, dab dry and finely chop.

Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat, add anchovies and mash into paste.

Drain the broccoli well, combine with the anchovy sauce and chili. Season with salt and pepper.

Gai-lon is also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale, and is very nutritious.  The stems and leaves are all edible. It’s a great source of vitamins A, C and K.  Per 1 cup (250 mL) cooked, there are 19 calories, 914 mcg vitamin A, 26.2 mg vitamin C, 78.8 mg

For many, this vegetable with sweet head buds and bitter leaves is a taste of home. Philip Ngai from Green Body Farms in Port Hope, Ontario says “Gai-lon is a Chinese vegetable, that’s very popular in the Southern province of China. It’s popular now because of the population change.” Gai-Lon is available in Ontario from May to October. Even after they’re harvested in the field, there’s more work to be done. Ngai says when farmers pack Gai-Lon, they have to cool it down because “after you pack them, they’re  still growing, even in the box.” It’s become a popular vegetable in Ontario, and for good reason.

Ngai points out that different ethnic groups enjoy Gai-Lon. You can find Gai-Lon at most grocery stores in the GTA.


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