Chao Jielucai

Preparation info

    Appears in

    Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

    By Ellen Schrecker

    Published 1976

    • About

    The Chinese word for broccoli, huacai, means “flower vegetable.” Mrs. Chiang’s recipe for it rescues broccoli from sogginess by stir-frying it and from insipidity by adding just enough spiciness to enliven the fresh, clear flavor of the vegetable. The recipe is simple and should not take more than 15 minutes to prepare. Cauliflower, also called huacai, can be cooked exactly the same way.



    1 large bunch broccoli Wash the broccoli. Cut the florets off the main stems in fairly good-sized pieces. Cut off the tough bottom part of the stems, then slice the stems in half lengthwise and then into pieces about 2 inches long.
    3 dried red peppers Cut each pepper into 4 pieces.
    ½ inch piece fresh ginger Peel the ginger, then cut it into shreds about ⅛ inch wide, the width of a wooden matchstick.

    1 tablespoon cornstarch

    ½ cup water

    Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside.


    ½ cup peanut oil Heat your wok or pan over a high flame for 15 seconds, then add the oil. It will be ready to cook with when the first tiny bubbles form and a few small wisps of smoke appear.


    (red peppers)

    When the oil is ready, throw in the ginger and the red peppers. Use your cooking shovel or spoon to stir them around in the middle of the pan for 5 seconds.
    (broccoli) Now add the broccoli and stir-fry it for 1½ minutes, scooping it off the sides of the pan and stirring it around in the middle so every piece is exposed to the hot oil.
    1 teaspoon salt Add the salt and stir-fry the broccoli for 1 minute longer.
    cup water Pour in the water, wait for it to come to a boil, then cover the pan and let the broccoli cook over a moderately high flame for 8 minutes.
    (cornstarch and water) Stir the cornstarch and water to make sure they are well combined; then, just before you are ready to serve the broccoli, pour the mixture into the pan. Stir-fry the broccoli for a few seconds over a high flame until the sauce turns thick and clear, then serve.