garlic chive

Garlic chives

Garlic chives (also 韮菜) are also known as Chinese chives, Chinese leek, ku chai, jiu cai, Oriental garlic chives or, in Japanese, nira (kanji: ; hiragana: にら; katakana: ニラ); in Korea known as buchu (부추), sol (솔), or jeongguji (정구지) or in Vietnamese, hẹ (/ʰɛ˨/; chu Nom: 𦵠). The plant has a distinctive growth habit with strap-shaped leaves unlike either onion or garlic, and straight thin white-flowering stalks that are much taller than the leaves. It grows in slowly expanding perennial clumps, but also readily sprouts from seed. Besides its use as vegetable, it also has attractive flowers.

The cultivated form is Allium tuberosum while the wild form is placed as A. ramosum. Older references list it as A. odorum but that is now considered a synonym of A. ramosum. Some botanists would place both wild and cultivated forms in A. ramosum since many intermediate forms exist.

A relatively new vegetable in the English-speaking world but well-known in Asian cuisine, the flavor of garlic chives is more like garlic than chives, though much milder. Both leaves and the stalks of the flowers are used as a flavoring similarly to chives, green onions or garlic and are used as a stir fry ingredient. In China, they are often used to make dumplings with a combination of egg, shrimp and pork. They are a common ingredient in Chinese jiaozi dumplings and the Japanese and Korean equivalents. The flowers may also be used as a spice. In Vietnam, the leaves of garlic chives are cut up into short pieces and used as the only vegetable in a soup of broth and sliced pork kidneys.

Many garden centers carry it (usually unaware of its culinary uses) as do most Asian supermarkets.

A Chinese flatbread similar to the green onion pancake may be made with garlic chives instead of scallions; such a pancake is called a jiucai bing (韭菜饼) or jiucai you bing (韭菜油饼). Chives is also one of the main ingredient used with Yi mein dishes.

Garlic chives are widely used in Korean cuisine, most notably in dishes such as buchukimchi (부추김치, garlic chive kimchi), buchjeon (부추전, garlic chive pancakes), or jaecheopguk (a guk, or clear soup, made with garlic chives and Asian clams).

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