Pan fried flat dumplings filled with fragrant Chinese chive, soft scrambled eggs and springy vermicelli noodles, Chinese chive pockets are simply irresistible.
I mentioned in the post on Spicy beef flatbread that in our Red House, flour based dishes with meat filling, such as dumplings, buns, stuffed flatbread, etc., were nominated to be our family’s favourite type of food. Last week after we happily tucked into some Chinese chive pockets (韭菜盒子), I realized that we love vegetarian fillings in these dishes too! They taste just as good, if not better.
Chinese chives (aka garlic chives, 韭菜) have long, flat, dark green leaves. Not only do they look different from regular chives, they also have a much stronger flavour which somehow resembles the taste of garlic. In Chinese cuisine, they are usually used as a vegetable (rather than a herb) and often paired with meat or eggs. Among many dishes that feature this flavourful vegetable, Chinese chive pocket (韭菜盒子, literally means “Chinese chive box”) is no doubt the most popular one.
Chinese chive pockets are pan fried, semi-circle shaped, flat dumplings filled with Chinese chives and scrambled eggs. Sometimes you can find mung bean vermicelli noodles and/or dried shrimps in the filling. Chinese chive has such a strong and appealing flavour on its own that you don’t need to add too much seasoning to the filling.
You may find Chinese chive pockets complicated at first glance. However, they are actually much easier to make than you would imagine. Here are my reasons:
- Chinese chives are very easy to be chopped small (in comparison with other popular vegetables for dumpling fillings, such as Chinese cabbage, pak choi, etc.)
- Chinese scrambled egg takes very little effort to cook. Please refer to my post on “Tomato and egg stir-fry” for detailed instructions.
- Salt is the only essential seasoning. Sometimes I add a little Chinese five-spice powder or ground Sichuan pepper, but they are entirely optional.
- You only need two basic ingredients, flour and hot water, to make the dough and there is no special technique required.
- You can shape the pockets using the simplest method: Place the filling in the middle of the wrapper; flip one side of the wrapper towards the other; seal the edge by pinching between your thumb and index finger. Done! However, if you’d like to make them a little prettier, you can use a fork to press the edge or make a more attractive pattern as shown in the images above.
- The wrappers for Chinese chive pockets are made from “Hot water dough (烫面)” which doesn’t take much time to cook through.
Chinese chives are widely available in Asian/Chinese shops. In Spring time, I like using Bear’s garlic (aka Wild garlic) as a substitute. Growing in the woodland, bear’s garlic belongs to the Allium family and tastes very similar to Chinese chives. When I was living in Switzerland, I used to pick bear’s garlic in a nearby wood every Spring and make delicious pockets with this “free” ingredient. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found a location where I can do the same around Bedford, the town where I live in England.
One last tip: I don’t recommend that you use pre-made, commercial dumpling wrappers to make Chinese chive pockets. They are too small and too thin thus not really suitable for this purpose.
Preparing this post has made me very hungry! Hope you feel the same looking at my pictures. Give my recipe a try! I’m sure you are going to love it.
More pan-dried delicacies to discover: