I don’t even remember why I bought it. Maybe I was going to buy broccoli rabe, but it was more expensive, or FreshDirect just had it on sale last week. Either way, I recently bought two bunches of broccolini. Or BroccoliniÂ® as I’m sure Mann Packing, its distributor, would rather I refer to it.
It looks like broccoli and it tastes… almost like broccoli, but better somehow. Sweeter, I guess, and also somewhat… familiar.
As it turns out, broccolini is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale, also known as kai-lan, gai-lan, or gai lohn.
I love kai-lan, and for a while I was semi-obsessed with it. When we lived in Brooklyn, about five years ago, my husband and I (and technically the kid, although in utero at the time) would make regular trips to Big Wong’s and always order the roast pork on rice, which came with kai-lan dressed with oyster sauce — and I would scarf that down as fast as my pregnancy-swollen fingers could manage.
Broccolini… I think I may like even more. A rinse and a chop and it’s in whatever you’re cooking. It turns this amazing, almost lurid green after just a couple minutes of cooking. It cooks really fast but it doesn’t go all mushy either.
As you can see, I put it into fried rice with (even more) leftover ham.
I’m generally a flop at fried rice or stir-fries, because I always misjudge how long things need to cook and then I end up with half overcooked, half undercooked ingredients. The broccolini worked out perfectly, though â€” which was great, because I think I broke my brain writing three essays for my application to The New School. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much over anything in my entire life.
Anyway, it’s done now, and now I have to write this week’s Accidental Hedonist post. It’s going to be about bees. Seriously.