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Choy Sum Recipe with Crispy Garlic Bits and Oyster Sauce

Choy Sum Recipe with Crispy Garlic Bits and Oyster Sauce

Hong Kong Choy Sum is a flat, leafy green vegetable with thick stems. It is also known as the Chinese Flowering Cabbage. Its stem, leaves, and flowers can be eaten as a stir-fry, blanched or even raw! This Choy Sum Recipe is perfect with plain food as it’s on the stronger side of flavours.

In Thailand, we usually have this vegetable raw with Som Tam. However, in Malaysia, it is more popular to blanch, boil or stir-fry this vegetable first.

Large bunch of fresh choy sum with large leaves.
Lovely, fresh choy sum is highly recommended.

Choy Sum with Garlic Bits and Oyster Sauce Recipe

The Ingredients

Start with assembling the ingredients. You want to use the freshest choy sum vegetables that you can find because the fresher they are, the sweeter they will be. Leafy vegetables also tend to shrink after cooking as well, so using bigger ones yields a more voluminous dish.

Choy sum, water, chopped garlic, thick soy sauce, light soy sauce, sugar, salt, oyster sauce, and pepper.
All the ingredients needed for this dish.

Preparing the Choy Sum Garnishings

Although choy sum can be eaten just blanched out of the pan, the addition of garlic oil, along with garnishings of crispy fried garlic and oyster sauce, really brings out the taste of this dish.

Garlic oil is made by simply frying chopped garlic in a pan of hot plain oil. Odorless cooking oil, like canola oil or sunflower oil, is perfect for this. While cooking and becoming crispier, the garlic’s essence is infused into the oil.

Once the garlic pieces have slightly dried and begun to change colour, you want to remove them because while cooling, the residual heat will continue browning the garlic. This will result in beautiful, perfectly caramelized garlic pieces. At this stage, the kitchen will be filled with a lovely garlicky fragrance.

Strain the garlic oil and allow the garlic pieces to cool resting on a strainer to encourage airflow. This will help the garlic retain its crispiness.

Frying chopped garlic in a pan.
When the garlic is slightly dry and is turning colour, it’s time to remove them from the pan.

The oyster sauce also has other sauces combined into it, further enhancing its rich, salty flavour.

In the same pan over medium heat, combine the light soy sauce, sugar, pepper, oyster sauce, and thick soy sauce. The residue of garlic oil and garlic pieces in the pan enhances the taste of the oyster sauce. Allow the sauce to simmer and come to a gentle boil so that all the sugar can melt and combine evenly with the sauce.

The sauce will have a delicate balance of saltiness and sweetness, combined with the richness and depth of oyster sauce. Once it has come to a gentle boil, turn off the heat and set the sauce aside.

With a richer and saltier sauce; it goes really well with plain rice, and especially, porridge.

Cooking the Choy Sum

Next, blanch the choy sum in boiling water to cook it. You want to do this because they will be soft and tender, while the stem will retain a little crunch towards the end. Immerse and give them a couple of turns before shocking them in cold water.

Choy sum in some hot boiling water in a pot.
Time to remove the choy sum from the hot water.

“Shocking food” is a technique that immediately immerses hot food into cold water once it’s cooked, and then promptly removing them from the cold water. It is a process that rapidly cools the food’s exterior to reduce its residual heat. More often than not, cooked food will have absorbed excess heat that continues to cook them as they cool away from the stove. It is usually done to vegetables to preserve their freshness while they are cooked.

This is also why the fried garlic is removed before it is actually brown. As they are cooling, they will naturally turn caramelize as the heat cooks them. Removing them later results in varying stages of dark brown to burnt.

Although shocking the choy sum in cold water can be omitted, you don’t want to do so because they will not retain their soft crunch as they continue cooking from the residual heat if it’s not shocked. After a few seconds, remove the choy sum with a strainer, so that it is still warm.

Blanched choy sum immersed in cold water.
Dip the choy sum in some cold water to stop it from cooking.

Assembling the Choy Sum Dish

Now that we have all the prepared ingredients, we can assemble this dish. This step is the easiest and most fun part of the whole recipe. Feel free to alter the amounts as preferred as this section is all to taste 😉

Blanched choy sum flanked by the cooked sauce and fried garlic.
It’s ready to be assembled!

Coat a generous layer of garlic oil on the choy sum. Aside from imparting a faint garlic taste on the vegetable, the lovely fragrance will also stimulate the appetite. The choy sum also appears glistening against the light, making it more visually appetizing.

Spreading garlic oil over the choy sum.
Coat the choy sum in garlic oil for extra flavour.

Arrange the choy sum stems onto the serving plate. Drizzle the desired amount of oyster sauce onto the choy sum. Less is more if this dish is to be consumed on its own, but more sauce can be added if served with plain rice or porridge. If in doubt, it is also a good idea to serve the sauce separately on the dining table.

Next, sprinkle a generous amount of crispy fried garlic to enhance the fragrance and impart a crispy texture to the choy sum. Each bite will be filled with a lovely, nutty flavour and crisp texture.

Sprinkling fried garlic over choy sum.
Crispy fried garlic provides an extra crunch and flavour to this dish.

Now it’s time to serve!

Two pairs of hands holding the finished choy sum dish.
Done! Let’s serve it!

It’s perfect with white rice! With each bite, the palate is filled with a lovely garlic scent and flavour, before melting away to a salty, rich, umami sauce with hints of pepper, oyster, and sweetness. The blanched Choy Sum itself is sweet, with a tinge of freshness that accompanies leafy greens. Shocked in cold water right after blanching, it is very crunchy and juicy.

This is a really delicious Choy Sum Recipe dish! Hope you can give it a try 😉

Happy cooking!

A pair of hands holding the finished choy sum dish.

Choy Sum with Garlic Oil and Oyster Sauce

Somjit Najaireeb
A simple veggie dish to be eaten with porridge/congee when one is unwell.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 2 people
Calories 307 kcal


  • Saute pan
  • Small Heatproof bowl
  • Boiling pot
  • Large strainer


Saltier Version: Good with Plain Rice/Porridge

  • 200 g Hong Kong Choy Sum
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce, use 2 tbsp for a less salty version
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt, reduce for less salty version
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp thick soy sauce
  • 4-5 tbsp cooking oil, to make garlic oil
  • 3 tbsp water, room temperature


  • Sauce
  • Turn on the stove to medium heat. Add oil to the saute/frying pan
  • When heat can be felt from 2 inches away from the oil, add the chopped garlic. Fry until golden brown and its fragrance is released.
  • Switch off the heat and remove all the garlic from the pan. Set the garlic aside.
  • Strain the garlic oil into a clean, heat-proof container. Set aside.
  • With the rest of the garlic pieces and oil residue still in the pan, add light soy sauce, sugar, pepper, oyster sauce and a dash of thick soy sauce.
    Note: If a more salty dish is preferred, add a dash of salt into the pan.
  • Add the water into the pan. Turn on the stove to medium heat.
  • Gently stir the sauce over the heat with a flat spatula until all the sugar has melted and the sauce is well-combined. Turn off the heat, and set the sauce aside.


  • In a boiling pot, add water such that the choy sum can be fully immersed in the water. Bring the water to a rolling boil on medium heat.
  • In a separate basin, add ice cubes and fill the basin with water.
  • When the water is in a rolling boil, add 1 tbsp of salt to the water.
  • Gently add the choy sum in the boiling water. Turn the choy sam over so it shrinks and is fully immersed in the water.
  • Cover the pan and let the vegetable simmer for 1 minute.
  • Remove the lid, and scoop the choy sum with a strainer. Carefully lower the choy sum into the basin with ice water. Allow the choy sum to rest until cool to touch.
  • Drain all the water from the choy sum.


  • Place the choy sam onto a shallow plate.
  • Drizzle the garlic oil onto the choy sum (optional).
  • Drizzle the oyster sauce over the choy sum.
  • Sprinkle the crispy, fried garlic over the choy sum.



Tips: If your choy sam looks wilted/ dehydrated, soak them in water for 15 minutes to bring them back to life! Your choy sum will be crunchier after cooking. This works for many types of leafy vegetables.


Serving: 1gCalories: 307kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 4gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 4251mgPotassium: 36mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 10000IUVitamin C: 130mgCalcium: 257mgIron: 2mg
Keyword choy sum, easy vegetables, garlic oil, oyster sauce
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