Chinese Stir-Fried Choi Sum with Brown Sauce

20140412-1251-Choi Sum with Brown Sauce-00002

As a little girl, I always dreaded dinner when my parents made stir-fried Chinese vegetables (except for kong shin tsai which is the bomb).  They’re so bitter.  What kid wants to eat bitter greens.  Who cares how good they are for you?!  Well, I now know that with the right brown sauce, Chinese vegetables can taste great!  So what’s the secret brown sauce recipe?  Well look no further (okay, you do have to look below).  After a long road of experimentation, we finally got our brown sauce to taste just right and happy with our final results.  It works with most any bitter Chinese leafy green.  We like it best with bok choy.


  • 3 lbs choi sum or bok choi or gailan
  • 3 T + 1 T vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

Brown Sauce:

  • 1/2 c concentrated veggie broth (1/2 Knorr Vegetairan Bouillon dissolved in 1/2 cup of water OR 4 tsp mushroom powder dissolved in 1/2 c of water)
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 2 T vegetarian oyster sauce
  • ½ T sesame oil
  • 1 t sugar
  • ½ t MSG (optional – substitute salt if you aren’t going to use MSG)
  • 1 t cooking wine (e.g., Shaoxing)
  • 2 t corn starch


Make sure the vegetables are dry after washing (we use a salad spinner).  Chop the vegetables in 2 inch sections.  Separate the chopped sections that are mostly stem from the chopped sections that are mostly leafy.

Combine the Brown Sauce ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

Heat 3 T of cooking oil in a wide-bottomed frying pan on high heat.  Add the stems of the chopped vegetables, and stir-fry for a few minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds.  Add the remaining leafy chopped vegetables and stir-fry for 2 more minutes.  Mix the Brown Sauce very well so that no corn starch is deposited on the sides or bottom of the container.  Pour the mixed sauce into the wok.  Stir-fry, cooking for 1 minute or until the sauce has thickened. Serve.


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