I remember when I was little, my house would always smell like garlic chives. If you haven’t smelt garlic chives before, it’s quite pungent. I know many people who can’t stand the smell let alone eat it but I frankly love it. To me, it’s not pungent, rather quite delicious. Mum would always stand there in the kitchen making garlic chive and eggs stir fry, garlic chives pancake or garlic chives dumpling and I would impatiently wait at the dining table, every now and then asking ‘is it done yet mum?’ in a squeaky voice.
That was before mum actually grew her own garlic chives in the tiny patch of soil just under our kitchen window. It’s one of the easiest to grow vegetables, maybe as easy to grow as spring onions or rosemary. The distinction between regular chives which is a lot more known and consumed, garlic chives is flat and more garlicy where regular chives are tubular. They both grow in clumps from bulbs and once they start growing, you basically don’t have to worry about them. Every now and then you’ll need to have them cut and consumed (or given away if you don’t feel like any) to keep the leaves tender and small. Cut them close to the surface of the bulb, leaving just a centimetre left and they will grow by themselves. In fact, they become almost like weeds and grows even when you don’t want them to.
For more garlic chive growing tips, go to this site.
I never really understood why people didn’t like garlic chive dishes. You must give them a chance if you haven’t had them before, they are surprisingly delicious! You can find them in most Asian grocery store in the veggie section.
A few days ago, mum dropped by and gave me a whole bunch of this pungent but delicious ingredient as it was time for a trim, so I decided to make something I don’t usually make – garlic chive and egg parcels (or in Chinese Jiu Cai He Zi (韭菜盒子)). It was the first time I had made them so they didn’t turn out as good as I had hoped.
The recipe I used was adapted from a Chinese website which didn’t do a good job specifying how much dough to how much filling so I had to wing that part. In the end I was left with WAY too much dough so what did I do with it? I made a Nutella peanut pancake with it! It turned out it was even better received by Yuye than the actual parcels. Hmm…
The recipe below has been adjusted to (hopefully) contain a reasonable amount of dough to filling ratio. If you do find you have left overs, just do what I did.
Garlic chive and egg parcels – Jiu Cai He Zi (韭菜盒子)
• 140g plain flour
• 80ml warm water
• a small bunch of garlic chives – the ratio between garlic chives, eggs and dried shrimp should be roughly 3:2:1.
• 3 medium eggs
• a handful of dried shrimp skin (these can be purchased from Asian grocery stores). If this is not available, you can also use dried shrimp which is harder and needs to be rehydrated before use.
• 1 tbsp of sesame oil (or more if you like it)
• salt to taste
• For the dipping sauce – vinegar, soy sauce, chilli paste and sesame oil
1. Mix the flour with warm water in a large bowl or on a table bench. Knead until the dough is no longer sticky.
2. Set aside in a bowl covered with a damp tea towel to rise for 20 minutes.
3. In the mean time, chop garlic chives into roughly 50mm lengths.
4. Cook eggs in a frying pan like you would scrambled eggs, make sure you don’t add salt while cooking as this tends to brown the eggs.
5. Remove eggs from stove and chop eggs into small bits.
6. Finely chop the dried shrimp.
7. Mix the ingredients together, adding sesame oil and salt to taste.
8. When the dough has risen after 20-30 minutes, remove from the bowl and split into 6 portions. Roll each portion into a ball in your palms, then squash the balls with the ball of your hand. When you roll our the dough in this matter, it will keep the shape more round.
9. Roll out the dough very thinly and then fill each one with the filling. As the chives shrink when cooked, you need to pack in more filling if you want the parcels to look nice and taste good. Mine were not filled enough so they look a bit depleted and tasted doughy.
10. Close off the edges firmly so the filling doesn’t fall out.
11. Heat a frying pan with cooking oil on medium heat, and cook these parcels until golden brown. Serve with or without the dipping sauce.
Note: If you don’t want to make your own dough, I have a feeling frozen puff pastry with this filling and then baking it in the oven would also work out great.
Nutella and peanut butter pancake
If you don’t have left over dough but still want to make these pancakes, here’s a recipe from scratch.
• 50g plain flour
• 30ml warm water
• peanut butter
1. Mix the plain flour and warm water together as above, knead the dough until no longer sticky.
2. Set aside in a bowl covered with a damp tea towel and rise for 20 minutes.
3. When ready, split into 2 portions, roll each one out into a thin long shape. (I didn’t do a good job in the photo because I accidentally stretched the top when I was transporting it to a different board).
4. Spread with plenty of peanut butter and Nutella, then fold onto itself a few times.
5. Roll it out again with a rolling pin until reasonably thin (roughly 2-3mm).
6. Heat cooking oil in a frying pan and cook the pancake (it’s more like a pizza or something at this stage) until crispy and totally cooked through.
7. Cut into strips and dig in!
I left the plate of these Nutella peanut pancakes with Yuye while I went to clean up the kitchen and after a few minutes, he ran out saying ‘I’m SORRY!’. He had eaten all of them but 1 piece. ‘I couldn’t help myself, they were too delicious’ said he, looking at me with puppy eyes, and I just laughed.
Apparently the garlic chive parcels were fantastic too apart from being a bit too doughy, but the Nutella pancakes I will definitely make again.
I wasn’t going to put up this last photo, it’s
the failed attempt the result of my first attempt and when I realised I had made the parcels too big, I tipped the filling out and restarted. But the dough was already too soggy to be used and there was too much dough left over anyway so I turned it into a pancake. It didn’t taste very good and it was very hard and dry (because I rolled it out too thick) and so sadly it ended up in the bin.
Question time: Have you ever had garlic chives before and do you like it? And have you ever made a dish only to realise that the side dish or a salvaged off cut turned out to be the hero?