Zest and Herbs

Garlicky Chinese chives

Chinese chives

Now that I can enjoy eating again after my operation, I made sure to spend some time restocking my supplies and came across a big bunch of garlicky Chinese chives. Longer and flatter than the chives I’m used to, they have a taste similar to wild garlic and are a popular ingredient across Asia.

Although we think of chives as herb, Chinese chives (sometimes called garlic chives) are traditionally treated more like a vegetable similarly to other alliums like leeks and spring onions – that’s why they’re sold in such large bunches. They can be treated much like wild garlic or spring onions: cooked lightly or eaten raw to retain their flavour.

In Korea that Chinese chives (or buchu) are used in light flour and water pancakes, mixed into spicy seasoning pastes for fried tofu or made into the ubiquitous kimchi. In China they are stir-fried like spring onions or mixed with minced pork to fill dumplings, while in Japan (where they’re called nira) they are cooked in a hot wok with beaten egg to make a casual lunch dish.

With a similar taste to wild garlic, Chinese chives are easily adapted into European cuisines too, making for a very versatile herb. I’ve cooked them into an omelette and made a composite herb butter. Really, anywhere you might use spring onions, chives or wild garlic, Chinese chives can be an option too.

Chinese chive omelette

When you’re only cooking for one though, the large bunches can be a bit excessive! They have a short shelf life too (about 3-4) days, so I might be having them in every meal for the next few days…

For ideas cooking with Chinese chives, try this pork and chive stir fry.

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