Friday, June 08, 2012

Cooking with Garlic Chives


When I lived at my aunt’s house during my first year in college, I had a tough time eating the food she made. The main reason was because she cut down on seasoning with sodium since my uncle has high blood pressure. But the one dish my aunt made that I really enjoyed was her garlic chive, pork, and shrimp wontons egg noodle soup. The wontons were usually on the salty side, which was a nice change, but it was watered down with the lightly-seasoned pork bone soup. To this day, I'm not sure if they were actually on the salty side, or if my taste buds were numbed.

So it’s been about three years since I last had a bowl of that yummy stuff. Actually, when I went to Toronto to cover the marathon, my cousin joined me for dim sum on my last day. I inadvertently ordered a bowl of chive wontons. When I took a bite out of the green-speckled wonton, memories of eating my aunt's garlic chive wontons came flooding back. It tasted pretty close to my aunt's version. But as my cousin pointed out, shrimps weren't used in the filling.


Ground pork, shrimp, oyster sauce and sugar were mixed in a bowl.




Garlic chives (from our garden) were washed and sliced. And just like adding chocolate chips into the cookie batter, the sliced garlic chives were added to the pale mix.


Curious as to how the wontons tasted, I threw a few wontons into some boiling water to cook. I normally rely on my sense of smell to guess the end result, but I was unsure with this batch and didn't want to fak up a whole batch of wontons. The garlic chives were very mild in flavour. I was told that it was the rainy weather we had. The rain washed away the flavour? Derp? I ended up adding minced garlic, fried garlic, and more garlic chives to the filling. It's a good thing I tasted the wontons before I opened up another package of wonton skins.

As I was wrapping the wontons, I realized that I’d probably have to freeze most of them. I’ve always been annoyed when the normally wrapped wonton skins broke off in the freezer, so I tried to wrap it a different way. They reminded me fanny packs. I placed most of the wontons on a small wax paper-lined sheet pan and threw it into the freezer. Frozen wontons and dumplings are great a great addition to hot pots, instant noodles, noodle soups, or even boiled/steamed/fried for a quick snack.

The rest of the wontons were boiled up for a snack. Something tasted off though. The filling didn’t match the thin wonton skins. I don't know how else to describe it. The thin wonton skins just didn't compliment the filling. I had a feeling that the filling would taste much better if the filling was used to fill spring rolls instead. Maybe they'll taste similar to the fried wontons that can be found on dim sum carts, I thought to myself.



The next morning, Mom used up all the garlic chive pork filling and wrapped a bunch of spring rolls. These tasted amazing! It reminded me of dim sum fare. In fact, I’m sure restaurants serve garlic chive and shrimp spring rolls. We enjoyed the juuuuicy garlic chive spring rolls with a healthy dipping sauce of mayo. I think the wontons would've also tasted like dim sum fare if they were deep-fried instead of boiled.


I fried up a second batch but the oil was too hot. The spring roll skins got blistered. Gross!

The rest of the garlic chives, along with minced garlic, were mixed with flour, water and salt, then steamed into a large sheet of garlic chive cake. They're similar to turnip cakes. I didn’t touch this stuff, but it must’ve been tasty when fried up. The heavy pan of garlic chive cake was finished in less than a week.

I'm rediscovering garlic chives all over again and it tastes great!

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