Other gardeners have been harvesting them for weeks now. I didn’t see any in my garden, then I turned to look and they were everywhere! Everywhere! Garlic chive scapes sprouted overnight, like mushrooms. Really?
No, I wasn’t paying attention. My distracted mind preoccupied with other obligations. Like accepting awards. There is nothing like it to get a newbie blogger’s heart aflutter. But now, the scapes are a-calling. And the newbie blogger must a-answer. (I’ll stop calling myself a newbie in a year’s time, if I make it that far.)
I picked one off the patch under the maple tree, and nibbled on the stalk. Garlicky, but mild and pleasant, and …. sweet! Reminiscent of ramps and so much easier to grow.
That was an educated guess. Ramps are not within my area of expertise. A few bulbs were purchased from the farmers’ market this Spring, and planted by the fence, where it remains shaded most of the day. What will become of them, I cannot tell. But I can definitively tell that garlic chives, aka Chinese chives, are very easy to grow. In fact, they can be invasive. I talked about it in my Chive Talkin’ (Part I).
Remembering what Mac said about these scapes losing their sweet taste a few days after being harvested, I set out to use them right away. Right away translated into indiscriminate for this distracted mind, and chives were added to everything.
Corn fritters (meh!), stir fried noodles (good!), and frittata (very good!). I know there are no pictures, I’m just giving you ideas. Actually, the distracted mind was using the camera without a memory card, duh! Would you believe there is no internal memory in the Sony Nex? There was no beeping or any kind of warning, either. What’s up with that, Sony?
Thank goodness the distracted mind snapped out of it and memory card was used for what you will see next. These are some of the best uses for garlic chives, in my opinion.
Along with spring rolls and fried wontons, this is my most requested recipe. My girlfriends always, always, ask me to bring these to a potluck. And most of the time, I oblige. Although easy to make, they’re slightly time-consuming, but what wouldn’t I do for my girlfriends, huh?
1 lb ground meat (pork is the norm, but you can use chicken, turkey, or even beef. In fact, I used the meatloaf mix, which is 1/3 beef, 1/3 pork, and 1/3 veal.)
1 cup shelled shrimps, coarsely diced
1/3 cup chopped garlic chives (both scapes and leaves can be used)
2 tbsp soy sauce (I used low sodium)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp mirin or rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp corn starch
Freshly ground pepper
Dumpling or wonton wrappers
1. Mix all filling ingredients.
2. Place about 1 tsp of filling in the center of a wrapper. Moisten the edges of the wrapper with water, and fold it in half. You can pleat the edges if you like, but pleating takes time and practice. I don’t always do it.
3. You can serve these dumplings steamed, deep-fried, or pan-fried.
This makes a lot of dumplings, by the way, like 50 of them. But they freeze beautifully.
Pickled Chive Scapes (Blossoms)
I think of pickling as a not-too-secret tool or method, similar to adding bacon to or making fritters out of unfamiliar ingredients. When in doubt, either pickle, baconize, or fritterize. I know almost anything tastes good with either of those methods.
What I didn’t know was how good these pickled scapes are in a sandwich, here of sausage and peppers.
I have an inkling that they would be even better in a Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich, in place of the usual pickled daikon & carrot. Pretty sure I’ll be trying that soon.
Last but not least, these scapes are flowers, so of course you can use them in an arrangement.
A few more words about the now beloved garlic chives:
In the past, I made the mistake of waiting for the flower buds to plump up, before harvesting, thinking that they were the desirable part of the plant. By that time, the stalks have become hard and stringy. I’ve decided now that what I want are the stalks. So it’s critical to harvest them when the buds are still flat, because the stalks are tender and sweet then, and you can reach all the way down to the base of the stalks and pluck the entire length of the scapes.
Here’s a tip of what to do if you waited too long to harvest and the bottom of the scapes have hardened. The best way to harvest is to hand-pick, and not use clippers. Hold the lower part of the scape with your thumb and pointer, run your fingers up its stalk while gently tugging at it. Wherever it snaps is where it’s still tender. Just like what you do with asparagus.
Garlic chives may still go under the invasive list in my garden journal, but their stature is beginning to grow in my estimation. Anything that grows that easily and provides you with good healthy eating deserves a lot of respect. They’ve earned their spot in the garden. I’m no longer sorry I let them spread.