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Chinese Chives/Gow Choi


Chris Amirault
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Our favorite vegetable at our local Hong Kong restaurant is "gow choi fan," which I believe is known in English as flowering chives. However, I'm having a hard time finding information about gow choi in general and the different varieties in particular. Grace Young's Breath of the Wok refers to a method for seasoning a wok with the flat, non-budding chives that uses pork fat, but I can't seem to find any recipes. I believe that the chef at our local place woks the chives in a bit of fatty chicken stock and adds just a touch of sugar and salt; my attempts to replicate this at home have varied depending, I think, on the age of the chives.

What are some traditional recipes for these great chives? What are the varieties? Thanks in advance for what will be, as always, a lot of useful information here in the China forum.

Chris Amirault

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I absolutely love gow choi dan, which I guess is egg foo young. Don't know how traditional this is, but we ate it a lot when we were growing up.

It's easy to make.I'm sorry that the description isn't as eloquent as Ah Leung's recipes, and I don't usually measure, but here goes:

gow choi (flat, flowerless variety), cut into about 2" pieces

roast pork, cut into slivers

eggs, beaten with a bit of dark soy sauce and sesame oil

one clove garlic, flattened.

Heat up the pork, set aside. Saute the gow choi in the same pan until just wilted (if the pork is fatty enough, I don't add extra oil), adding a bit of water if needed. Mix both pork and chives in egg mixture. Heat a bit of oil in your pan, add garlic until brown. Add egg mixture and cook until brown. (I like my eggs just a bit runny, so I cook it a little less.) Yum! :wub:

Karen C.

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[...] Grace Young's Breath of the Wok refers to a method for seasoning a wok with the flat, non-budding chives that uses pork fat, but I can't seem to find any recipes. [...]

Chris: Are you looking for a recipe to season a wok? Or a recipe for food with chives? I believe she mentioned to season a new wok with chive so that the chive will soak up the "metallic" taste of a new wok. Obviously that chive is not for eating.

In Cantonese recipes, chives are used as stir-fries with meat (e.g. beef or pork or chicken), or to make a chive omlette, or used in dim sum to make gow choy gau (chive dumpling made with shrimp paste, or chopped scallop). What's good, also, is to boil chive in a broth with pork blood and pork skin (or stir-fried with them and some garlic would be good too).

I have used chive to make pot stickers before and I like that taste.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Thanks, Karen! That sounds great.

Sorry, Ah Leung, to be unclear: definitely looking for recipes. I mentioned the seasoning method only bc it's one of the few times I've seen gow choi mentioned in a cookbook.

Do you use different kinds of chives? Or just the flat, non-flowering one?

Chris Amirault

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Do you use different kinds of chives? Or just the flat, non-flowering one?

There is a variety that is called "yellow chive", or gow wong in Cantonese. Those look like chive but are yellow in color throughout. The characteristic fragrance is stronger. I am not clear whether or how chive and yellow chive are related (they grow chive without adequate sunlight and it becomes yellow chive???), but they taste very similar. Yellow chive are more expensive and are typically used in small quantities in some dishes to enhance the taste. (e.g. Gon Chow Ngau Ho - the dry-stirfried rice noodles with beef slices.)

The usages I mentioned in the previous posts were all referring to the flat, non-flowering chive.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Do you use different kinds of chives? Or just the flat, non-flowering one?

There is a variety that is called "yellow chive", or gow wong in Cantonese. Those look like chive but are yellow in color throughout. The characteristic fragrance is stronger. I am not clear whether or how chive and yellow chive are related (they grow chive without adequate sunlight and it becomes yellow chive???), but they taste very similar. Yellow chive are more expensive and are typically used in small quantities in some dishes to enhance the taste. (e.g. Gon Chow Ngau Ho - the dry-stirfried rice noodles with beef slices.)

The usages I mentioned in the previous posts were all referring to the flat, non-flowering chive.

I think that Gow Wong is grown under clay pots or covered up to promote the yellow color (much as white asparagus is covered with hay to keep the asparagus from going green). My uncle has grown some and he says it is difficult to grow.

Karen's egg and gow chow is my favorite way of eating them. We throw in a few shreds of dried scallops that have been soaked in hot water to soften them up. The eggs are cooked very very softly in my household - almost curd like in the french style of scrambled eggs (forget the french term for them). Delicous!!

P.S. My uncle used to tell us how he used his night pot to fertilize his garden. I think he did it to keep us from eating his food. And it worked.

P.P.S. The gow chow used to season the wok was not eaten - it was thrown away.

Edited by canucklehead (log)
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Chris, the flat Chinese chives are also used in Japanese cuisine, where they're known as nira. One of the most popular recipes is a kind of congee called Nira Zosui.

Rinse 4 cups cold, cooked short-grain rice in a colander to remove stickiness. Bring 3 cups dashi to a boil in a saucepan, along with about 1 teaspoon soy sauce (or to taste). Add rice and heat. Add 2 beaten eggs and 1 bunch Chinese chives, cut in 1" lengths, stirring vigorously to scramble the eggs. Remove from heat and serve hot. Serves 3-4.

SuzySushi

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Our favorite vegetable at our local Hong Kong restaurant is "gow choi fan," which I believe is known in English as flowering chives. However, I'm having a hard time finding information about gow choi in general and the different varieties in particular. Grace Young's Breath of the Wok refers to a method for seasoning a wok with the flat, non-budding chives that uses pork fat, but I can't seem to find any recipes. I believe that the chef at our local place woks the chives in a bit of fatty chicken stock and adds just a touch of sugar and salt; my attempts to replicate this at home have varied depending, I think, on the age of the chives.

What are some traditional recipes for these great chives? What are the varieties? Thanks in advance for what will be, as always, a lot of useful information here in the China forum.

Is 'gow choi fan' the same thing as 'jiu cai hua' 韭菜花??? It is one of my favorite vegetables and if I see it on a menu, I order it.

Here's a place that covers chives -- scroll down to get the yellow chives as they are not grouped with the flat or flowering.

http://www.foodsubs.com/HerbsAsian.html

This is a recipe I've use for beef with flowering chives. I'm reformatting it so as to conform with legalities. I hope it is understandable.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLOWERING CHINESE CHIVES WITH BEEF

Use ½ pound Chinese flowering chives. -Wash and dry them. Trim the tough bottoms about 1 ½ to 2 inches, then cut the chives into 2-inch lengths.

Slice 1/2 pound steak across the grain into thin slices, then shred the slices into match-sticks the same size as the chives. This is easily done if the meat is partially frozen. I usually use flank steak.

Then marinate the steak in 1 tsp. hoisin sauce / 1 Tbsp. soy sauce / 2 tsp. sherry or Shaoxing wine / ¼ tsp. sugar / ½ tsp. cornstarch, for 15 minutes.

Cooking: --Heat a wok. --When wok is hot, add 1 Tbsp. oil --When oil is hot, add the chives and stir fry a minute or so or just until tender but still crispy. Remove.

Add another 1 Tbsp. oil and when hot, add the steak strips in its marinade, and spread in the hot wok, pressing the strips into the sides of the wok to sear them. Turn the slices and press the other side until steak is just about 90% cooked.

Return the chives to the pan and stir in for a minute to reheat.

If you want ultra tender steak slices, you can velvet them in oil instead of stir/frying, but the above recipe is easier.

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I have the regular Chinese chives in my herb bed. I put theminto mashed potato and they are very tasty this way, too.

Here is another site that offers seeds of Chinese chives or leeks including the mention of covering the broad leaf chives to make light color.

Chinese leek

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I like to cook the non-flowering chives when we have hot pot - toward the end, after everyone has had their fill of meat, but before we cook the noodles.

This is a new one for me, is this a regional thing?

How long do you cook the chives for and how do you eat it?

Also, how does this make the soup taste?

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