Discover one of the key ingredients of chinese cuisines: Chinese garlic chives. It’s so versatile that it can be used in many dishes. Come find out a few.
Table of Contents
1. What Chinese can’t live without
As a Chinese living in UK; after eating potatoes, onions and cabbages for a while, I craved for those foods and vegetables I was used to when I grew up in China. They were so common and affordable that I took them for granted and never worried about their availability. However, once here, I realised that some of these Chinese vegetables were just simply not available in any stores.
Amongst them are Chinese garlic chives, which are definitely one of my favourites. I can only find them in small Korean supermarkets that are miles away from my home, and with a price tag that sinks my heart. 3 pounds for one pack of 100g!!! Oh, how I miss those times in China when I could get 1 kilo for only 1 pound. I knew I cannot afford to have them so often here, so I tried to suppress my desire. However; as you cannot always control your mind; every now and then the craving will crawl like the desolate creatures of an horror movie. Especially at night when I was sleeping. I would even dream about all the delicious dishes they go well with, wake-up and cry my heart out, staring at the empty imaginary plate standing in front of me.
I therefore decided to take matter into my own hands. I rented a plot of land and started digging. Everywhere I watched, people told tales of dense and easy crops of garlic chives. So I decided to give it a go…and failed…miserably. Amongst all the exotic vegetables I managed to grow this one remained the most elusive. I guess I just have to keep trying I said to myself.
…Followed by inspirations
After so much failures, I was about to give-up, when, out of nowhere, an inspiration came to me. Why not go for a substitute of these Chinese garlic chives? After all, aren’t garlic sprouts close relatives to chinese garlic chives I pondered? I then realised that not only they share family trees, but also nutritionary traits. Indeed, they are both rich in Vitamin C and Carotene. Furthermore, they are all good sources of calcium and have a high content of dietary fibres. And, garlic sprouts turned-out to be as easy to grow as chinese garlic chives had been a difficult pest.
2. How to grow garlic sprouts at home?
Once I decided to go for these garlic sprouts at home, I checked a few on-line videos and it looked like it was just a matter of a few simple steps. You don’t even need soil. All that is requested is a tray or a plate to hold the garlic heads.
2.1. First step
Buy the fresh garlics from the supermarket. I bought about 30 heads.
2.2. Second step
Peel the out layers skins from the garlic head, and keep the single layer of skin on the garlic cloves.
2.3. Third step
Place all the garlic heads in the tray with the bottom down. Add tap water up to the height half way of the garlic head. Leave the tray at a south-facing window where it can have the sun shine.
2.4. Fourth step
Add a bit water every other day to keep the same level of water.
Depending on the temperature of your room, it takes about three to four weeks for the garlic sprouts to grow up to 25-30cm high; which is the time to trim them off. By the way, from my experience, I suggest you get a tray that is 5cm deep. The shape of the tray or plate does not matter.
3. How to cook the garlic sprouts/garlic chives?
Garlic sprouts/Chinese garlic chives are particularly good with eggs and seafood, you can also add them into the Tofu or stir fry dishes to add flavours.
🔴 Recipe Example “Fish Jiaozi – Fried and Boiled”
A. Cooking tools:
To cook your perfect jiaozi, you will need: A cutting board, a small rolling pin, a big wooden board, a frying pan and a big boiling pot (or wok), a big skimmer and a knife (ideally a chinese chef knife). Check-out how to use the Chinese chef knife in my video.
B. Ingredients for the dough wrap:
▪️600g strong white flour
▪️280ml cold water
▪️One egg white
C. Ingredients for the filling:
▪️600g cod fillet, skinless and boneless, finely minced
▪️100g pork tenderloin or chicken breast also finely chopped
▪️200g garlic sprouts or Chinese garlic chives, cut in small pieces
▪️One egg yolk
▪️5 slices of ginger finely chopped
▪️2 table spoons of light colour soy sauce
▪️1 table spoon of:
– Dark colour soy sauce
– Oyster sauce
– Chinese rice cooking wine
▪️4 table spoons of sesame oil
▪️A Pinch of Chinese five spices powder
▪️A pinch of white pepper powder
▪️One tea spoon of salt
D. Cooking steps:
Making the dough
✔︎ Add the egg white and salt into the flour. Then add the water little by little. Mix and knead the dough for 15 minutes until the dough is very smooth.
✔︎ Cover the dough with the cling film and set aside for at least 30 minutes
Make the filling
✔︎ Put the minced fish and meat together, add all the seasonings except the garlic sprouts or garlic chives.
✔︎ Mix all with a big spoon and stir in one direction until you can feel the resistance. This will mean that they are not loose but tightly held together.
Prepare the wrap
✔︎ After the dough has been set for 30 minutes, it should be very smooth and elastic. Cut off one quarter each time and roll the dough into a long tail shape which is about 2.5cm diameter.
✔︎ Cut the tail into pieces about 2cm long each, scatter plenty of dusting flour on the pieces to prevent them from sticking together.
✔︎ One hand holds the dough and turn the dough in one direction, another hand holds the rolling pin and keep rolling the dough until it becomes a thin (2mm) circle shape about 8cm diameter.
You can check how to prepare your wrap here.
Fill the wraps
✔︎ Mix the chopped vegetables into the filling right before you wrap the jiaozi.
Wrap the jiaozi
✔︎ Put a lump of filling in the centre of the wrap, leave 1.5cm space on the edges.
✔︎ Fold the wrap together into half circle shape, press the folding together in the middle first. Then tightly seal the wrap.
✔︎ Remember to put enough dusting flour on the bottom of the jiaozi when you put them on the board. This will prevent them from sticking on that surface.
You can check how to wrap your jiaozi here.
Cook the jiaozis
Once you finished the folding, you can boil or pan fry the jiaozi.
a. Pan fry
🔵 Heat up the frying pan on medium low heat, add a bit oil to coat the bottom. Lay the jiaozis together from the edge of the cooking pan to the centre.
🔵 Cover the lid for about 3 minutes. After that, add 80ml cold water into the pan, then cover the lid immediately. You then cook for a further 8 minutes until the water is fully evaporated and you can hear a sizzling sound. This will indicate that they are perfect and ready. Please do not open the lid during the cooking time, as you will release the steam out of the pan. You need to keep the steam inside the pan to cook the jiaozi through.
🔵 Turn off the fire, take off the lid, cover the pan with a bigger plate, and turn the pan bottom up. The jiaozis will naturally fall into the plate.
b. Boiled jiaozi
🔵 Boil plenty of water in a big pot or wok at high temperature. Normally, I boil about 2.5 to 3 litters water for 40 jiaozis.
🔵 When the water is fully boiled, dump the jiaozis into the pot, gently stirring to prevent them from sticking together.
🔵 Cover the lid and wait until the water boils back again.
🔵 Add 100ml cold water, stir them and cover the lid again. Once more, wait until the water is brought to boil.
🔵 Repeat the process for a third time.
🔵 Remember to keep the heat at high temperature throughout the whole boiling process
🔵 Use the skimmer to take the jiaozis out of the water, and place on a big plate.
❣️ Videos “Fish Jiaozi – Fried and Boiled”
🔴 Recipe “Stir fry tofu with garlic sprouts”
▪️fresh firm tofu
▪️100g of fresh trimmed garlic sprouts, chop into one inch long pieces
▪️One table spoons of vegetable cooking oil
▪️One table spoons of light color soy sauce
▪️1 table spoons of dark color soy sauce
▪️Half tea spoon of salt
▪️A pitch of Chinese five spices
▪️One table spoon of corn starch or potato starch
▪️A few drops of sesame oil
B. Cooking steps:
✔︎ Cut the tofu into 3 to 4cm size cubes, and blanch the tofu cube for a minute or two;
✔︎ Use the skimmer to take out the tofu from the boiling water and keep it aside;
✔︎ Heat up the wok or pan with medium heat, add the cooking oil and all the seasons into the wok;
✔︎ Add tofu into the wok immediately, stir a bit to coat the tofu with seasonings evenly, add 80ml water and cover the lid for 3 minutes.
✔︎ Mix the corn starch with 3 table spoon of water;
✔︎ Add the starch water into the wok, gently stir the tofu until the sauce become a bit thick;
✔︎ Add the garlic sprouts, stir gently for 10 to 15 seconds until you smell the aroma of garlic.
✔︎ Turn off the heat immediately, add a few drops of sesame oil and serve.
Always add the garlic sprouts or garlic chives near the end of the cooking process. Normally only 10 to 15 seconds at medium heat is enough to bring out the strong aroma. Otherwise, both the flavour and the colour will fade.
🔴 Recipe “Scrambled eggs with garlic sprouts”
▪️4 medium size eggs
▪️100g garlic sprouts/garlic chives, chopped into 1 inch long pieces
▪️Two table spoons of vegetable cooking oil
▪️One table spoon of Chinese cooking rice wine;
▪️One tea spoon of salt
B. Cooking steps:
✔︎ Crack the eggs into the bowl, add the cooking wine into the eggs and beat the eggs with folk for about 60 times;
✔︎ Heat up the wok or pan with medium heat, add the oil in the hot pan;
✔︎ Add the egg liquid into the work/pan and scramble constantly until the egg is set;
✔︎ Add the garlic sprouts into the egg, stir for 15 seconds until you can smell the aroma of garlic, turn off the heat immediately.
✔︎ Add the salt, mix well and serve.