Some consider broccoli a superfood. And, luckily these green florets are also super tasty. This ultra-quick Chinese-style stir-fried broccoli with garlic and chili is one of my favorite ways to enjoy this green goodness – super easy, super tasty and indeed super healthy. What else do you need?
Stir-fried broccoli is part of a typical home-cooked Chinese meal, usually consisting of several dishes that are shared around the dinner table. This broccoli stir-fry with garlic can accompany some meat or tofu dishes or other veggies. In general, vegetables play a much bigger role in Chinese cuisine than they do in traditional Western cooking where they may often be relegated to the role of a side dish. In China, vegetable dishes are essential to any dinner table, sometimes enriched with a little bit of meat. This broccoli dish, along with stir-fried leafy vegetables such as bok choy, is one of the most common veggie plates in Chinese cooking.
And while many Chinese dishes may appear a bit complicated, broccoli stir-fry with garlic is super easy. It takes only about 10 minutes to make – and that includes the chopping! Everyone can do it. All you need is to chop up your broccoli florets, two or more garlic cloves and a small red onion. If you like it spicy, add one chopped dried chili, with (spicier) or without its seeds.
As for the superfood capacity, broccoli is full of vitamins and antioxidants. It contains generous amounts of vitamins A,B,C,E and also potassium, calcium and iron and some anti-inflammatory nutrients. Actually, one thing we learned recently from a quiz show (believe it or not) is that broccoli is healthiest if chopped up a while before cooking it. Seriously. The reason is, as recent studies have found, that it contains a beneficial compound called sulforaphane, which helps controlling your blood sugar level and may have anti-cancer benefits. And this compound develops only after the broccoli is cut into pieces. Sounds awkward? Maybe. But it doesn’t hurt to chop your broccoli early on to enjoy the maximum benefits of this valuable ingredient, right?
How to make it
Since the secret of stir-fried broccoli is to keep the vegetable’s crunch intact, you fry it for a maximum of 3-4 minutes. This is the time after which the florets start to soften, and for this dish, you’d not want that to happen. My boys give me looks when I overfry for as little as 1 or 2 minutes, as they think it’s too mushy that way. So be vigilant. Stir vigorously, and take the broccoli out of the pan at the right time.
Again, veggie dishes such as this one usually serve as one of several plates on the Chinese dinner table. If you like, try to pair this broccoli dish with fiery, saucy Mapo Tofu or juicy Kung Pao chicken with peanuts for a full meal! Serve all of it with cauliflower rice.
If you’re eating on your own, stir-fried broccoli with garlic can also be a fully satisfying meal just for you. For example, you can pair with a spoonful of spicy sambal oelek and, if you like, a warm hard-boiled egg. I do eat that regularly when my kids are in school as a quick and healthy lunch. Just now, I actually ate the broccoli I made for this post’s images. With sambal and egg. Yum!
If you are planning to make a full Chinese meal with several dishes, chop ingredients for all of them first, before starting the cooking process. Then group them together for each dish. That will help you stay organized and reduces stress once you start throwing your ingredients into a wok. Important: Let your broccoli be the last dish you fry. It most probably needs the shortest time to cook, and it cools quickly. By frying broccoli last, your other dishes stay fresh and warm while you make this one.
At any rate, make roughly as much as you can eat. Stir-fried broccoli will lose its crunch soon, so it is best eaten fresh off the wok.
Zero waste tipp
If you are not using the trunk, you can keep it in a container in your fridge. So you can use it later as ingredient for making your own veggie stock. I usually have a cotton bag in my fridge veggie drawer with slightly wilted vegetables for that purpose. They still are perfectly healthy and way too valuable to throw away. Just make sure they don’t show signs of rot or mold.
Delicious green crunch: Stir-fried broccoli florets with garlic and a little dried chili, made in a matter of minutes as a side for a Chinese dinner or a full vegetarian meal
Serving 1 or 2 as a full meal or more as part of a Chinese meal with two or more dishes
1 small to mid-size broccoli
1 small red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced (use more if you are into garlic)
1 dried chili, chopped (optional)
1 tbsp rapeseed or coconut oil
1 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp vegetable stock
- Half an hour before cooking, wash the broccoli and chop its florets into pieces and set aside. Chop the chunk as well or keep it as ingredient for making vegetable stock
- Heat wok or non-stick pan and add oil. Stir-fry onions and garlic and chili – if using – until golden and emitting scent.
- Add broccoli florets and keep stirring constantly. Season with salt. After 2 minutes add vegetable stock and keep stirring for another minute or two. Broccoli florets should still be covered with the spiced oil, but still be very crunchy and not wilted. Serve immediately.
If enjoyed on its own, stir-fried broccoli is great with any version of cauliflower rice. If you serve it as part of a chinese meal, serve all dishes at the same time together with a bowl or cauli rice – and steamed unsalted rice if preferred by some eaters around your table.
Nutrition facts are based on assuming a 500g/one pound broccoli shared by two people.
- Category: meals
- Method: stir-fry
- Cuisine: Chinese
- Serving Size: 2 servings
- Calories: 163
- Fat: 7.8g
- Carbohydrates: 13.1g net carbs
- Protein: 7.6g