Chives or Not Chives

For produce, I went to an Asian grocery store on Nicollet, Shuang Hur, which has a rather comprehensive selection of produce and different kinds of meat. I was hoping to get a bunch of the vegetable, 韭菜, which one can easily find in a supermarket in China, but rarely in a US store. Gladly, I was able to find it at Shuang Hur, along with some Chinese celery, the kind with much thinner stems, with flavorful stalks and leaves, than those found in “typical” grocery stores. 韭菜has three translations, why I used the Chinese name, according to one online dictionary, garlic chives, Chinese chives, and Chinese leek (http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?wdrst=1&popup=1&wdqchid=%E9%9F%AD%E8%8F%9C), and google translates it to “leek” from Chinese to English and chive to “韭菜” from English to Chinese. I know it is not leek. I wondered why such a simple item that is very popular in China is so difficult to have a simple name in English. My wife insists that it is chive since the store labeled it as “chive” and she recognizes it as the invasive plant that has overtaken many of her garden plots over the years, so the store should know what they are selling and must be right as is my wife. For “chives”, I had the impression they would be used as an ingredient, as the “chive” used in China is a vegetable. There has to be some differences, and indeed, according to Wikipedia, the common edible plant in Western cuisine, known as chives, refers to the species Allium schoenoprasum, whereas the Asian vegetable is Allium tuberosum. The flowers of the former are pinkish, and the latter has white blossoms.

Recipe 1: When韭菜 is used as the main component in Chinese dumplings, or 饺子,its flavor is particularly striking. Since next week will be the Chinese New Year, and 饺子 is the standard, traditional food at midnight of the New Year, perhaps after fireworks, I have decided to make dumplings. I used three items as the main contents, 韭菜, Chinese celery and fried egg. One can use ground pork or beef to replace the egg, and other vegetables. Perhaps, 韭菜 and Chinese celery do not typically go together since they both have pretty strong flavors. Surprisingly, the result is quite flat, perhaps their flavors cancelled one another, or probably they do not have as strong flavors as I thought. Dumplings are fairly easy to make. You chop all the ingredients in fine pieces, wrap them up with flour dumpling skins and cook in boiling water.

I used a method as I have seen when I was young to decide when the dumpling is cooked.  First, when they are put into the boiling water, they will sink to the bottom. As the water is brought to boiling again, they rise and float on the surface. After a minute or two, pour a couple tablespoons of cold water, and bring it to boil again. Repeat this twice or three times, it’s all done.

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Recipe 2 is Kaffir Lime Scallops with Browned Butter from food52.com. Here, I have replaced kaffir lime leaves by the Chinese celery leaves, skewered around scallops which I seasoned with various herbs and spices. The scallops are then browned on the flat, uncovered sides in browned butter and olive oil. Then, add in minced chives (1 teaspoon), chili peppers, and other seasonings. I also pan fried some Shiitake mushrooms to go along.

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Recipe 3 is very simple. Pan stir fry eggs with 韭菜, mixed with a bit of Chinese celery.

 

One thought on “Chives or Not Chives

  1. RobinS says:

    I learned about Chinese chives last year when we hosted a couple of women from Tawain. They made dumplings for a special occasion and showed me how to make vegetarian dumplings using 韭菜, eggs, green bean noodle, sesame oil, cabbage, and green onion. They were really delicious, but I’ve yet to make them again. I’ll have to try making them using your cooking method.
    I think that eggs and 韭菜 are a harmonious pairing – love the subtle garlic flavor.
    Thanks for the post.

    Like

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