This gorgeous bunch of flowering garlic chives (jiu cai in Mandarin) caught my eye in the market this morning. It brought me back to my childhood, when my mother grew these in luxurious abundance in our garden. These are commonly used throughout Asia in various savory dishes. Garlic chives with their flowers attached are so prized that sometimes they are served simply stir fried with a little salt, as a vegetable side dish. My mother would sometimes also stir fry them with some sliced squid, making a beautiful purple and green dish. And the garlic chives without their flower bud heads are commonly used in dumplings, mixed with pork and/or shrimp. My favorite way to enjoy these chives is in a Chinese-style omelet. This is a simple dish enjoyed in Chinese homes and makes for an excellent lunch or light dinner. The seasonings bring out the sweetness of the garlic chives.
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Chinese Chive Flower Omelet
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 pound flowering garlic chives
optional: 1/2 tsp ground brown pepper or five spice powder
1. Beat eggs with sugar and soy sauce in a medium bowl.
2. Using scissors, snip chives into 1/4 inch pieces and fold into egg mixture.
3. Heat canola oil in a frying pan over medium low heat, then add egg mixture and tilt pan to spread it in a thin layer.
(Do this in batches if necessary.)
4. Allow to cook halfway, then use spatula to roll the omelet into a log– for fluffiness. Try not to let the omelet brown– it should be soft, not crisp.
5. Remove from pan and slice into diagonal slices.
6. Serve with steamed white rice, and soy sauce or chili sauce (Sriracha is my chili sauce of choice) if desired.
© 2011 Linda Shiue