Kitchen & Pantry

Chinese chives (garlic chives, Chinese leek)

Chinese chives come by many names. Abbreviated from Wikipedia:

Garlic chives are also known as Chinese chives, Chinese leek, ku chai, jiu cai, Oriental garlic chives or, Kucai in Malaysian and Indonesian, in Japanese, nira; in Kapampangan it is known as Kuse/Cu-se; in Korea known as buchu, sol, or jeonggujior in Vietnamese, h?, in Lao known as pak phaen.

casaveneracion.com Chinese chives (garlic chives, Chinese leek)

Despite “Chinese leek” being one of its names, it is not a leek nor is it similar to onion leaves. It is not a chive, a chive being a small onion. In flavor, it is more garlicky than onion-like but the Chinese chive is not part of the garlic plant at all (see garlic stalks or scapes).

The telltale sign is the bud at the tip. But, sometimes, Chinese chives come with the tips cut off. You’ll have to see and touch Chinese chives, and smell them, to get really become familiar with the texture, the shade of green (they are darker than garlic stalks) and the distinct aroma.

How are they cooked?

casaveneracion.com Chinese chives (garlic chives, Chinese leek)

They’re great with stir fries. Just cut and throw into the wok. I prefer them over garlic stalks for their milder flavor. But there’s no reason why you can’t go beyond stir fries with Chinese chives. I’ve used them in an omelet once and the result was great. And, yesterday, I used them in an oxtail stew. Recipe coming up. :)

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