Takeout-style broccoli with garlic sauce is a great dish to have with any meal. Served with some white or brown rice, it’s tasty and guilt-free, and it’s easier than you’d think to emulate that restaurant flavor!
Chinese takeout definitely has its place as a treat, and no one knows more than me that there’s nothing wrong with indulging in an egg roll, a plate of pork fried rice, or fried chicken wings every once in awhile. That said, broccoli with garlic sauce is my go-to Chinese takeout dish when I feel like I haven’t been getting enough veggies.
An American Chinese Takeout Dish
I want to share a little history about this dish and, for that matter, any garlic sauce or Yu Xiang (“fish fragrance” style dish of meat and/or vegetables with sauce) dish from a take-out restaurant. It’s pretty obvious, but all of these dishes are clearly Americanized versions in every sense.
First, broccoli is a western vegetable, and second, the garlic sauce has been altered slightly to suit American tastes, and perhaps formulated to be easier to make by Chinese takeout cooks. If you want an authentic version of garlic sauce, check out Judy’s authentically-flavored chicken with garlic sauce recipe.
All that said, this broccoli with garlic sauce is GOOD! It’s slightly tart from the rice vinegar, balanced with the addition of a little sugar and the (optional) kick from some homemade chili oil. It’s a great alternative and change of pace from our popular garlicky broccoli, which serves as more of a traditional side dish.
Buying Fresh Broccoli
If you eat broccoli often, the last thing I’ll leave you with are some great tips I learned from Judy on how to select a good broccoli crown:
- Check the bottom of your broccoli stems. They should be full and white. Avoid broccoli with hollow stalks or brown streaks, which means the broccoli is not fresh.
- If your broccoli tastes bitter after it’s cooked, it was probably not fresh. I know it’s after the fact and not a ton of help, but better to know for next time!
- Look for dark green buds. Avoid any broccoli that has been heavily trimmed or has yellowing buds, which is an indication that the spoiled parts may have been trimmed off to fool unsuspecting customers into thinking it’s fresh!
Here are some pictures of the bottoms of broccoli crowns and the cross section of the stem. You can see that the bottom of the broccoli crown on the left has some yellowing at the core. Be sure to avoid any broccoli crowns with discolored stems and look for a bright white solid stem like you see on the right!
If you want an alternative to the usual western vegetables, learn more about Chinese vegetables and what to do with them on our Chinese Leafy Green Vegetables glossary page.
Now that you have your super fresh broccoli, let’s cook!
Broccoli with Garlic Sauce: Recipe Instructions
Wash the broccoli thoroughly and set aside.
Stir fry for 15 seconds, and add the Shaoxing wine around the perimeter of the wok. Give everything a quick stir and add in the sauce mixture.
Let the sauce come to a boil, and mix the cornstarch and water together to make a slurry. You can turn the heat down slightly and cook the broccoli a bit longer before adding the corn starch slurry if you like your broccoli softer.
Once the broccoli is cooked to your liking, add the cornstarch slurry slowly while stirring the broccoli and sauce constantly. Let the sauce cook and thicken until it coats the back of a spoon.
If you like a thick sauce, add more cornstarch and water. If you like your sauce thinner, add less cornstarch and water. If you’d like, stir in the chili oil at this point.
Serve your fresh homemade broccoli with garlic sauce!
You’ll never go back to a Chinese takeout restaurant for broccoli with garlic sauce after you try this dish at home!