Chinese Kale with Shrimp & Oyster Sauce

Health Benefits of Chinese Kale

Chinese Kale is a very under-rated vegetable but packed full of vitamins with high levels of folate and lots of vitamin C. So it's really a vegetable we should be eating more of.

People who are not fond of green vegetables, generally are rather “meh” about the taste. Perhaps a leftover from childhood when sweets were the target and our taste buds felt assaulted when our parents forced us to eat greens – or maybe that's just me!

Pak Kana Nahm Man Hoi Sai Koong - Chinese Kale with Shrimp in Oyster Sauce

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A great way to encourage ourselves to eat more vegetables is simply to make them just taste more yummy. And that is the aim of this recipe.

Photo of Chinese Kale with Shimp in Oyster Sauce
Chinese Kale or Pak Kana with Shrimp and Oyster Sauce – A Healthy and Tasty Combination

You can go the stir-fry route and cook this healthy vegetable along with a few prawns and serve it up straight coated in oyster sauce or try this healthier recipe.

Photo of small leaved Chinese Broccoli
Thai Pak Kana is Chinese Broccoli with More Leaves

But some things are just more attractive naked and this leafy vegetable looks just perfect when boiled in water a few minutes but avoid overcooking it. Adding a little oil with the water gives a beautiful sheen to the leaves which added to the crunch and pleasure of dipping the shiny thing into the oyster sauce has plenty of your senses tingling before it gets into your mouth.

Now we do have a problem – well a couple actually.

What is Pak Kana or Thai Chinese Kale?

Kale is a leafy vegetable that is a member of the cabbage species but there are a lot of different types. In Thailand the vegetable known as Pak Kana and translated to Kale is not the same as the Kale in the west.

Photo of Pak Kana or Thai Style Chinese Kale
Thai Style Chinese Kale has Good Sized leaves and a Few Broccolini Type Flower Heads (but Smaller)

Pak Kana is a variant of collard, a sort of cross between Chinese Kale, Chinese Broccoli (kai lan) and Broccolini (genus brassica oleracea var. alboglabra). It has green leaves and little flower heads that look a little like broccolini but much smaller in overall size and fairly large flat leaves with quite thick stemslike Broccolini more than broccoli.

The genus brassica oleracea is the broad group of cabbage like vegetables including broccoli.

So when shopping, look for the leafy vegetable with flower heads that look like little broccolini and you should have the right vegetable. Of course, there may be a little variation and you can always use Broccoli or Broccolini for this dish as a substitute.

Photo of raw broccoli
Broccoli is in the same family as Chinese Kale but Quite Different

Your local shop may call it Chinese Broccoli or Broccolini and the taste does differ between the various varieties of plant. It is not the same as western Kale though which has a more bitter taste and generally larger leaves though there are also several varieties of, what is called, Kale as well.

Chinese Kale can come with no broccoli-like florets being almost entirely leaf and stem or it can come with quite large broccoli-like florets with fewer leaves. What you are looking for is something in-between the two.

If you can't source that then go for broccolini and if you can't source that either then go for the leafier version of chinese broccoli.

Photo of raw broccolini
Broccolini is another variant sort of between broccoli and chinese kale – note the broccoli like flowers

The way I prefer to cook this dish is to lightly cook the Pak Kana or Chinese Kale so it stays crunchy and keeps most of its vitamin benefits. If you prefer your vegetables a little more cooked then just extend the cooking time until they are as soft as you like them.

How to Avoid Pesticide Contamination in Vegetables

These leafy vegetable crops are quite often treated with a LOT of pesticides and so I recommend that you wash several times with water and rub the leaves with your fingers to get any residual pesticide off the surfaces. 

Unfortunately, pesticide use is a global problem since they are absorbed by the plant as it grows but short of starving yourself or growing everything yourself, the issue is impossible to avoid altogether.

Washing thoroughly does reduce the problem significantly and so it is a very good idea to get into the habit of thoroughly washing all vegetables from whatever source before consumption.

The sauce in this recipe is a wonderful blend that compliments the vegetable very well and the prawns or shrimp give the dish a little more visual interest as well as tasting great too.

Don't skip the garlic to finish the dish off for presentation as well as taste.

Photo of Chinese Kale with Shimp in Oyster Sauce

Pak Kana Nahm Man Hoi Sai Koong - Chinese Kale and Shrimp In Oyster Sauce

Pin Recipe
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: kale, oyster sauce, Thai Food, thai vegetables
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 100kcal
Author: Phasinee Doddeo
A great way to liven up healthy greens intake to boost vitamins as well as folates for a host of health benefits to your body.
The folates in Chinese broccoli encourage fertility in men which is a good prompt to encourage guys to eat it up.
The shrimp and oyster sauce compliment the vegetable well and make it look great and so ticks all the boxes to serve as part of a Thai meal for friends.
Print Recipe


  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Chopped garlic
  • 3 cups Water For boiling
  • 9 Kale
  • 7 Prawns
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Rice Wine
  • 2 tbsp Water For sauce
  • 2 tsp Sesame Oil


  • Chop the garlic finely.
  • Heat the oil to quite hot and then fry the garlic until golden brown remove and set aside leaving a few bits in the pan.
  • Drain off all but about a tablespoon of oil to mix with the cooking water for the chinese kale and give a nice sheen to the leaves. The bits of garlic will add a little taste too.
  • Pull off the prawn heads and take outer shell off. Cut down back lengthwise and take the black vein out. Wash them well in salted water and then rinse in plain water and strain.
  • Cut the hard ends from kale stem bottoms off and the large, old outer leaves leaving the tender part of the stem cut fairly short to the remaining younger leaves. Leave the broccoli type heads as they are the tastiest part, Wash very well and strain.
  • Boil 3 cups of water. Hold the chinese kale leaves and immerse the stems for a minute or two to soften and then submerge completely and cook for several minutes for a crunchy texture or a little longer if you prefer more cooked greens. Remove and set aside to drain naturally.
  • Use the same hot water to cook the prawns for a few minutes - they cook quickly so once pink through they are about done. Set aside to drain.
  • Pour off the water from the pan and return to the heat.
  • Add oyster sauce, water, sesame oil, sugar, and rice wine and heat through stirring thoroughly.
  • Serve the Kale topped with shrimp and drizzle over the oyster sauce from the pan. Serve immediately.


Calories: 100kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 346mg | Potassium: 507mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 9990IU | Vitamin C: 122mg | Calcium: 178mg | Iron: 2mg

Gai Lan – Chinese Kale
Controlling Pesticides in Cooking

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