Saturday, February 21, 2009

Allium tuberosum, Garlic Chives

Allium tuberosum
  Garlic or Chinese Chives, gau choy
The clump forming garlic chives have just formed their first fat pointed flower buds. At this stage they are known as gau choy fa and it is the perfect time to pick them for stir frying and cooking as a vegetable ,dressing them with oyster sauce.The lower end of the flowering stems are cut off as you would with asparagus and the rest cut into finger length pieces. The flower buds themselves are not eaten.
This well known herb and decorative garden plant was brought here by Chinese immigrants in the early part of the 20th century or possibly earlier during the gold rush. These chives have a fairly strong taste and the leaves can be harvested at any time of year by cutting them just below the soil surface as much of the flavour is at the base of the leaf. Traditionally they are added to cooked dishes including classics such as omelettes, noodles,tofu,spring rolls or dumplings. Blanching the leaves so they turn a pale yellow by covering the plant with black plastic or straw subtly alters the flavour and makes it more delicate . Bunches of these (gau wong) are often seen for sale in Asian grocery shops. Sometimes these are cooked as a vegetable on their own in a similar way to gau choy fa.

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