Green China Restaurant

Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce


In the vast world of culinary delights, there’s a special place for leafy greens, and one of the stars is Choy Sum. This versatile vegetable is a staple in many Asian kitchens, known for its tender stalks and mild, slightly sweet flavor. When paired with a simple yet delicious garlic sauce, Choy Sum transforms into a dish that’s not only healthy but also bursting with flavor. Let’s dive into the wonderful world of Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce.

Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce

What is Choy Sum?

The Basics of Choy Sum

Choy Sum, also known as “cai xin” or “Chinese flowering cabbage,” is a leafy green vegetable commonly used in Chinese cuisine. It’s part of the Brassica family, which also includes broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Choy Sum is characterized by its small yellow flowers, long stalks, and dark green leaves. It’s not just nutritious but also incredibly versatile, making it a favorite in stir-fries, soups, and as a steamed vegetable.

Nutritional Benefits

Before we get into the cooking details, let’s take a moment to appreciate the nutritional benefits of Choy Sum. This vegetable is low in calories but high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and iron. It’s also rich in antioxidants, which help protect the body against free radicals and inflammation. Eating Choy Sum regularly can contribute to a healthy diet, supporting everything from bone health to the immune system.

Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce (白灼菜心)

The Magic of Garlic Sauce

Why Garlic?

Garlic is one of those ingredients that can transform any dish from ordinary to extraordinary. Its pungent aroma and robust flavor make it a staple in many kitchens around the world. Besides its taste, garlic is known for its numerous health benefits, including its ability to boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels. When combined with Choy Sum, garlic adds a depth of flavor that makes this simple dish truly special.

Making the Perfect Garlic Sauce

Creating the perfect garlic sauce is both an art and a science. The key is to balance the strong flavor of garlic with other ingredients to create a harmonious blend. Here’s a basic recipe for a delicious garlic sauce that pairs perfectly with Choy Sum:


  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water (for thickening)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil


  1. Prepare the garlic: Start by finely mincing the garlic. The finer, the better, as this will ensure the garlic flavor infuses well into the sauce.
  2. Heat the oil: In a small saucepan, heat the cooking oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, being careful not to burn it.
  3. Mix the sauce: In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and broth. Stir well to dissolve the sugar.
  4. Combine and thicken: Pour the sauce mixture into the saucepan with the garlic. Bring to a simmer, then add the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce. Stir constantly until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
  5. Adjust to taste: Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed. You might want to add a bit more soy sauce for saltiness or sugar for sweetness.
Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce (白灼菜心)

Cooking Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce

Selecting and Preparing Choy Sum

When selecting Choy Sum, look for bright green leaves and firm, tender stalks. Avoid any with yellowing leaves or wilted stems. Once you’ve got your Choy Sum, it’s time to prepare it for cooking:

  1. Wash thoroughly: Rinse the Choy Sum under cold running water to remove any dirt or pesticides. It’s best to soak it in a bowl of water for a few minutes, then give it a final rinse.
  2. Trim the ends: Cut off the tough ends of the stalks, about an inch or so, to ensure all parts are tender.
  3. Separate the parts: If the stalks are thick, you might want to split them lengthwise to ensure even cooking.
Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce

Blanching the Choy Sum

Blanching is a quick cooking technique that helps maintain the bright color and crisp texture of Choy Sum. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Boil water: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt to the water to enhance the flavor of the Choy Sum.
  2. Blanch the Choy Sum: Add the Choy Sum to the boiling water and cook for about 1-2 minutes, just until the stalks are tender but still crisp.
  3. Shock in ice water: Immediately transfer the blanched Choy Sum to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and preserve its vibrant green color.
  4. Drain and dry: Once cooled, drain the Choy Sum well and pat dry with paper towels.

Stir-Frying Choy Sum

While blanching is a great way to prepare Choy Sum, stir-frying adds another layer of flavor. Here’s how to stir-fry Choy Sum with garlic sauce:

  1. Heat the wok: Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat. Add a tablespoon of cooking oil and swirl to coat the pan.
  2. Add the garlic: Toss in a few extra cloves of minced garlic and stir-fry until fragrant.
  3. Stir-fry the Choy Sum: Add the blanched Choy Sum to the wok. Stir-fry quickly, tossing the vegetables to ensure they are evenly coated with the garlic and oil.
  4. Add the garlic sauce: Pour the prepared garlic sauce over the Choy Sum. Continue to stir-fry for another minute, allowing the sauce to coat the vegetables evenly.
  5. Serve hot: Transfer the Choy Sum to a serving dish and pour any remaining sauce over the top.
Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce (白灼菜心)

Tips and Tricks

Getting the Most Flavor

  • Use fresh garlic: Fresh garlic has the best flavor and aroma. Avoid pre-minced garlic or garlic powder for this recipe.
  • High-heat stir-fry: When stir-frying, make sure your pan is hot. This helps to quickly sear the Choy Sum, preserving its crisp texture and bright color.
  • Adjust to taste: Don’t be afraid to tweak the garlic sauce to suit your taste preferences. Add more soy sauce for saltiness, sugar for sweetness, or a splash of rice vinegar for a bit of tang.

Serving Suggestions

Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce is a versatile dish that can be served in many ways:

  • As a side dish: It pairs wonderfully with steamed rice and a main protein like chicken, beef, or tofu.
  • In noodle dishes: Add it to your favorite noodle stir-fry or soup for an extra boost of flavor and nutrition.
  • Mix with other vegetables like bok choy, snow peas, or bell peppers for a colorful and nutritious medley.
Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce

Adding a Personal Touch

Variations to Try

  • Spicy kick: Add a dash of chili oil or some sliced fresh chilies to the garlic sauce for a spicy version of the dish.
  • Nutty flavor: Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds or drizzle sesame oil over the finished dish for a nutty twist.
  • Citrusy zest: Add a splash of lemon juice or some grated lemon zest to the sauce for a fresh, citrusy note.

Experiment and Enjoy

One of the joys of cooking is experimenting with different flavors and techniques. Don’t be afraid to try new ingredients or adjust the recipe to suit your taste. Whether you prefer your Choy Sum with a bit of heat, a touch of sweetness, or an extra garlicky punch, the possibilities are endless.

Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce (白灼菜心)

The Joy of Simple Cooking

Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce exemplifies the beauty of simple cooking. With just a handful of ingredients and a straightforward cooking process, you can create a dish that’s not only delicious but also nutritious. It’s a great way to incorporate more greens into your diet and explore the wonderful flavors of Asian cuisine.

Cooking with Confidence

Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, the simplest dishes are the most satisfying. With this Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce recipe, you have a reliable go-to dish that’s perfect for busy weeknights or casual dinners. Plus, it’s an excellent way to impress your family and friends with your culinary skills, without spending hours in the kitchen.

The Power of Garlic

Never underestimate the power of garlic. This humble ingredient can elevate any dish, adding depth and richness that’s hard to beat. When paired with the fresh, vibrant Choy Sum, it creates a combination that’s both comforting and exciting.


Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce is more than just a recipe; it’s a celebration of simple, wholesome cooking. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting your culinary journey, this dish is sure to become a favorite. Its blend of fresh greens and savory garlic sauce offers a delightful eating experience that’s both healthy and delicious. So, next time you’re looking for a quick, flavorful, and nutritious meal, give Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce a try. Your taste buds—and your body—will thank you.

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