An Easy Chinese Greens Recipe

5 from 4 votes
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Introducing a super-fast and easy Chinese greens recipe that helps you prepare many types of green leafy vegetables. All you need is four ingredients and 10 minutes to serve a delicious and healthy side dish with your Chinese dinner. {Vegan, Gluten-Free Adaptable}

If I asked my mom to choose some of her favorite dishes for daily meals, this super-easy Chinese greens recipe would rank in the top three. Since she learned the method from a friend many years ago, she has been using it several times a week to add a delicious side dish to our dinner table. 

The easiest Chinese greens recipe

All you need is four ingredients – green leafy vegetables, peanut oil (any other neutral oil works as well), garlic, and soy sauce. 

To cook the dish:

  1. Blanch the vegetables and plate them
  2. Heat the oil in a small saucepan, add the garlic, and cook until golden
  3. Immediately drizzle the sizzling garlic oil over the vegetables
  4. Pour soy sauce over it and serve

The blanched greens will be quickly cooked by the hot oil, creating a richer flavor. The crispy garlic and soy sauce pair so well and give the green veggies just enough seasoning, so that their true taste shines.

A versatile recipe

The best part of this easy Chinese greens recipe is, you can use this method for many types of vegetables. 

My mom uses this method to prepare many types of Chinese greens, such as:

  1. Baby bok choy
  2. Chinese broccoli (Gailan)
  3. Yu Choy
  4. Choy Sum

If you cannot easily find Chinese greens, many other types of vegetables work great as well:

  1. Spinach 
  2. Broccoli / broccolini 
  3. Swiss chard
  4. Cauliflower 
  5. Kale

When you use the same method to prepare those vegetables, they will turn out tasty yet with different flavor profiles. That’s why my mom will grab a few types of Chinese greens and cook this dish a few times during the week. 

Cooking notes

A few things to help you prepare better Chinese greens:

  1. Add a pinch of salt and a few drops of vegetable oil to the blanching liquid.

This will help the vegetables stay very green because the oil will coat the vegetables to protect them from oxidation. This method helps a lot, especially when you need to prepare the vegetables ahead of time for a party and serve them later. But it is totally fine if you skip this step.

  1. Dry the vegetables before adding the seasonings.

The blanched vegetables will be logged with water. It’s important to gently squeeze out the excess water and let them sit in a colander to dry before plating them. You can even use paper towels to speed up the drying process. Do not skip this step, or else your dish will be diluted.

  1. Do not overcook the garlic

The garlic will turn golden very quickly in the hot oil. It’s important to stir the oil constantly so the garlic browns relatively evenly. Although you might be tempted to get all the garlic golden, it’s totally fine if it cooks slightly unevenly. Once the garlic turns golden brown, it will be cooked further by the residual heat even after you turn off the heat, and it might overcook and turn bitter. 

How to serve

Now that you’ve learned the essence of this Chinese greens recipe, you can pair it with all kinds of meals because the flavors pair easily with many types of cuisine. 

The easiest way to prepare a full Chinese dinner is to serve this dish on the side, along with your main dish, a soup, and some rice. You can prepare the greens ahead of time and set them aside. Then prepare your main and any other dishes you want to serve. Then finish it up with the hot oil at the end and serve the greens with the rest of your dinner.

You can tweak this recipe slightly, if you like, by using olive oil. Then you can serve it with a Western-style main dish such as roast chicken or beef.

To add a bit more kick, you can add some peppers (either dried, sliced fresh peppers, or pepper flakes) into the hot oil to spice things up. It is a wonderful way to add some greens as part of a very simple dinner with foods such as bread, roast potatoes, and rice and beans. 

Afterthoughts 

Many years ago when I still lived with my parents, my mom always told me to learn a few staple recipes so I would be able to whip up a quick dinner at any time. I was impatient and told her that I always preferred to try my hand at something new.

These days, I seem to appreciate the simple things more than before. A humble Chinese greens recipe not only reminds me of my mom’s cooking, but it truly comes in handy when I have a fridge full of leafy greens and I do not want to do a half-hour of internet research to come up with dinner ideas. 

This dish is just so versatile and easy to that my my cooks it all the time and we never get tired of it. And now it’s my turn. 

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Introducing a super-fast and easy Chinese greens recipe that helps you prepare many types of green leafy vegetables. All you need is four ingredients and 10 minutes to serve a delicious and healthy side dish with your Chinese dinner. {Vegan, Gluten-Free Adaptable}

An Easy Chinese Greens Recipe

5 from 4 votes
Introducing a super-fast and easy Chinese greens recipe that helps you prepare many types of green leafy vegetables. All you need is four ingredients and 10 minutes to serve a delicious and healthy side dish with your Chinese dinner. {Vegan, Gluten-Free Adaptable}
You can use tamari to replace light soy sauce to make this dish gluten-free.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Side
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: homestyle
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4 servings

Ingredients

  • Pinch of salt and vegetable oil , to blanch greens (Optional)
  • 1 small batch (about 4 cups / 300 g) Chinese greens or other vegetables (yu choy, baby bok choy, choy sum, spinach, Chinese broccoli, broccoli, and more) , tough ends removed and cut to bite-size pieces if needed (*Footnote 1)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 4 cloves garlic , coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce (or soy sauce)

Instructions

  • Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and several drops of vegetable oil so that the blanched vegetables will look greener (optional), stir to mix well.
  • Add the vegetables. Blanch until just cooked through and still crisp. It takes 1 minute or so to cook tender vegetables such as spinach, baby bok choy, yu choy, chard, and choy sum. It takes 2 to 3 minutes for Chinese broccoli, broccoli, and broccolini.
  • Once the vegetables are done, immediately rinse them with cold tap water to stop cooking. Stop once the vegetables have cooled to a warm temperature and not completely cold. Drain, gently squeezing out as much water as you can, then set aside in a strainer to dry further. If you plan to serve them immediately, you can use paper towels to pat the vegetables dry.
  • When you’re ready to serve, plate the blanched vegetables with minimal overlapping. (*Footnote 2)
  • Heat the oil in a small saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, stirring constantly until the edges of the garlic turns golden (*Footnote 3). Then immediately pour the hot oil with the garlic over the plated vegetables.
  • Drizzle soy sauce on top of vegetables and serve immediately as a side dish.

Notes

  1. For Chinese greens such as yu choy, choy sum or Chinese broccoli, cut and discard the tough ends. You can peel off the larger leaves but keep the whole stem for a nice presentation. For Chinese broccoli, you should also use a knife to peel off the tough skin from the lower stem for a better texture (like the ones in this post). For cauliflower and broccoli, cut to bite-size florets.
  2. You should always drizzle the garlic oil and soy sauce right before you serve the dish. Soy sauce contains salt, and if you add it too early, the greens will lose water and the sauce in the dish will be diluted.
  3. The garlic will continue to cook in the hot oil’s residual heat, even after you pour the oil over the vegetables. It’s important to cook the garlic only until golden, and it’s totally OK if the garlic doesn’t brown evenly.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 76kcal, Carbohydrates: 2.9g, Protein: 1.6g, Fat: 6.9g, Saturated Fat: 1.2g, Sodium: 275mg, Potassium: 210mg, Fiber: 0.8g, Sugar: 1g, Calcium: 85mg, Iron: 1mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Aysegul - Ice says:

    Who would know that it is so easy to make bok choy?
    Very well done. I love the video as well.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Cheers..
    Ice

    • Maggie says:

      I’m glad you found my recipe and video helpful! Yes, it’s super easy to make bok choy and it’s very tasty too! 🙂

  2. Bonnie Eng says:

    Oh my gosh Maggie…I love your site! And your little video clips are so clear and easy to understand…definitely following! 🙂

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Bonnie, thanks for stopping by and leave those kind words! Glad the video is helpful 🙂
      Have a great weekend!

  3. Mary Ann says:

    I can’t wait to try your recipes Maggie. I am so happy I found your site. They looks so easy. I LOVE Chinese food!!!

    • Maggie says:

      I’m glad to hear you like my recipes and would like to cook Chinese food at home! Happy cooking and I can’t wait to see what you will make 🙂

  4. Daniel says:

    5 stars
    Hi Maggie,

    I just discovered your lovely website. I made these veggies tonight to go with some char siu I made from scratch for my wife (who is from Hong Kong). She loved it — and I was surprised they were so tasty from such a simple recipe.

    I am looking forward to trying out some of your other recipes soon!

  5. Fazlul haque says:

    First time self decided to clock vegetable and go through your recipe. After serve the dish no one believed that it was clocked by my self. Every one enjoyed the same. Thanks . Now I request you give some special recipe which one Indian and Chinese combination.

  6. Batool Idrish says:

    5 stars
    I’m going to be trying it out in a couple of days. An excellent way to cook greens.

  7. Hari Dhameliya says:

    What a great assortment of sides! I love almost anything asian and am
    always looking to incorporate it in my meals. Can’t wait to try them!

  8. Fruit man says:

    Calories Can’t possibly be correct 2 tablespoons of ground nut oil – peanut oil is approx 240 calories alone without everything else

    • Bill Zigrang says:

      Assuming you eat ALL the oil (e.g, mopping it up with bread).

  9. Jeff the Chef says:

    What a great recipe for the new year! I love new ways of preparing vegetables.

  10. Michael Dubriwny says:

    I made 3 efforts to purchase your cook book, one through Pay Pal and two with credit card, I received the same message,”error, authentication failed” with no obvious solutions. Help or find new software.

  11. Louise Samson says:

    5 stars
    Super delicious, as always.
    Amazingly fast (and I am so sslloww, even though I have been cooking Chinese dishes for decades.) Also tried the greens in spicy chilli crisp oil instead of neutral oil, keeping the rest as is. Fantastic.
    Could not resist buying your e-book.
    Thank you, Maggie!

  12. Ake Nyberg says:

    What I’m always starving for. Want to combine with shitake mushroom fried in oil and with oyster sauce added. Had this style recipe in Hongkong.

  13. Nelia Tonido says:

    Love your easy, yummy recipes.Thanks for sharing.

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