Ostensibly, I count (Western) broccoli as one of my favorite vegetables, but only when cooked. I dislike raw broccoli because it has this chalky, slightly bitter aftertaste that I find unpleasant. In this recipe, I want to cook the (western) broccoli ever so slightly enough to eliminate the chalkiness and bitter aftertaste, but preserve some of the crispness of the fresh vegetable..

Also, I feel that we, Westerners, very badly need to be romantically acquainted with Chinese broccoli, or kai-lan. Hopefully, this will be a (mostly) vegan recipe that even a hearty meat-eater can appreciate.

Two Treasure Broccoli

2 pounds Chinese Broccoli
4 tablespoon sesame oil
3 teaspoon fresh garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
5 ounces straw mushrooms, halved
1/2 pound Western Broccoli
1 tablespoon Douchi (fermented blackbean sauce)
3 caps dried shiitake mushrooms
4 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/4 cup dried lotus seeds, crushed
1 king oyster mushroom, finely minced
3 large dried Chinese jujubes
5 cups boiling water
3 tablespoon soy sauce

1) The night before, crush dried lotus seeds, and add to a medium saucepan along with 3 dried Chinese jujubes, 3 dried shiitake mushrooms, oyster sauce and 5 cups boiling water. Let saucepan cool overnight.

2) Cut ends off of Chinese broccoli, and discard. Remove leaves of Chinese broccoli, if any, and save for garnish. Cut the stems into 3-inch long sections. Take the Western broccoli and break into 1 1/2 inch wide florets. Rince both, pat dry, and set aside in separate piles.

3) Heat the saucepan over Low heat until warm. Remove the shiitakes from the liquid, separate the stems from the caps, and discard. Mince the caps finely, then set aside. Take a fork to mash the jujubes until they disintegrate, then remove and discard the pits

4) Heat sesame oil in a large wok over high heat until the oil is hot, but not yet smoking. Stir-fry the garlic and ginger until fragrant: take 1 tablespoon of that to add to the saucepan. Add straw mushrooms to the wok and stir-fry for one minute. Add the Chinese broccoli and one cup stock from the saucepan, and continue stir-frying for another two to three minutes. Now add the minced shiitake, douchi, and honey, stir-frying until the Chinese broccoli is crisp-tender (i.e., four to five minutes). Remove wok from heat.

5) Turn the heat underneath the saucepan to hight, and bring to a rolling boil. Add the king oyster mushroom and the soy sauce, stirring while the mixture simmers. Keep the mixture boiling hot.

6) Spoon the Chinese broccoli and straw mushrooms out of the wok and onto the serving plate. Arrange them as desired, then place the Western broccoli on top. Take the saucepan and pour the boiling sauce over the Western broccoli. Garnish with the Chinese broccoli leaves. Pour remaining liquid in wok over the broccoli.