Broccoli is one of my favourite vegetables. I love its crunchy flavour and taste. As a Chinese Singaporean, I am used to eating stir-fried broccoli with soy sauce. What I prefer, however, is eating it blackened and pan-seared. It’s less wet and more crunchy.
The important thing about pan-seared broccoli is that the vegetables have to be as dry as possible to get them to blacken and become crunchy. After washing your vegetables, be sure to dry them with a kitchen towel.
After drying the vegetables, sprinkle salt, pepper and the herb of your choice over them. Toss the vegetables.
Heat up your cast iron pan or skillet. Make sure the pan is really really hot before coating the pan with oil.
To cook this dish, I used virgin coconut oil from COCOS. I have tried cooking with olive oil before but my entire living room looked like the haze had settled in. Virgin coconut oil has a slightly higher smoke point than virgin olive oil, which makes it more suitable for high heat cooking.
Leave the oil and make sure it is shimmering hot before putting the vegetables on the pan. Unlike Chinese wok cooking, you shouldn’t touch the vegetables for the first two minutes or so as the intention is to blacken one side of the vegetables first. Be patient, you will see a lot of smoke rising from the pan.
After two minutes, check to see that the pan-facing side has turned slightly black. Turn over all the vegetables. Leave the other side another two minutes. At this point, you can stir the vegetables around to make sure they are evenly cooked. Turn off the heat and you can let the vegetables sizzle on the pan.
For my lunch, I added my pan-seared vegetables to a bed of spinach and kale, and also made it a complete meal with smoked salmon, egg and sun-dried tomatoes.
For those of you who don’t like the strong taste of coconut oil, I highly recommend the COCOS brand. The oil has a very light taste and didn’t make my kitchen floor greasy at all. I asked Eejia, who sent me one bottle from her shop Eden’s Kitchen, why this was so. She said that the COCOS line of coconut products is processed in Singapore using centrifuge extraction. Some of the lauric acid is removed from the oil, which gives it a lighter taste. There is a promotion going on right now at Eden’s Kitchen and two bottles of 500 ml oil are going for $36.