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.
What are Chinese chives
Chinese chives (aka garlic chives, 韭菜) have long, flat, dark green leaves. Not only do they look different from regular chives, but 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.
What are Chinese chive pockets
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.
How to make the filling
In my recipe, the filling calls for the following ingredients:
- Chinese chives. They 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. Please refer to my post on “Tomato and egg stir-fry” for detailed instructions.
- Salt & ground Sichuan pepper. Sometimes I replace Sichuan pepper with Chinese five-spice powder.
- Mung bean vermicelli noodles. They don’t have much of a flavour on their own, but they provide an interesting texture to the filling. You may skip them if not available. In this case, increase the volume of chive and egg accordingly.
How to shape the pockets
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.
Would like to get more detailed instructions on dumplings making? Please check out my Ultimate Dumpling Guide and the following two posts (with tutorial videos) will help you to master the skills.
- Homemade dumpling wrappers shows you how to effectively roll the dough into nicely shaped wrappers.
- Ten ways to fold dumplings includes the pleats used for my Chinese chive pockets.
One 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.
Use bear’s garlic as an alternative
Chinese chives are widely available in Asian/Chinese shops. In Springtime, 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.
Chinese chive pockets (韭菜盒子)
For the dough
- 360 g all-purpose flour, 2.5 cups, plus extra for dusting if necessary
- 230 ml hot water, 1 cup
For the filling
- 150 g Chinese chives
- 50 g dried mung bean vermicelli noodles, optional, see note 1
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground Sichuan pepper, or Chinese five-spice powder
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
Prepare the dough
- Put the flour into a heatproof bowl. Pour in hot water (soon after being boiled). Stir with a pair of chopsticks or a fork until the flour turns into small lumps.
- Knead into a soft, smooth dough when cool enough to handle (see note 2).
- Cover the bowl with a wet kitchen towel. Leave to rest for 30 mins.
Mix the filling
- Finely chop chives.
- Soak vermicelli noodles in hot water for 5 minutes. Rinse under cold water until pliable. Chop into small pieces.
- Heat up oil in a wok then fry eggs (see note 3). Coarsely chop the egg.
- Put chive, noodles and egg into a mixing bowl. Stir in salt and ground Sichuan pepper/Chinese five-spice powder.
Assemble the pockets
- Divide the dough into 12 equal portions.
- Roll each piece into a round wrapper (about 15cm / 6inch in diameter).
- Place filling in the middle then seal the wrapper into a semi-circle flat pocket (see note 4).
Fry the pockets
- Heat up oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Place the pockets in then cover with a lid. Flip over when the first side becomes golden brown.
- Fry the second side uncovered until it turns golden brown (see note 5).
- A: Simply seal the edge of the wrapper by pinching between your thumb and index finger.
- B: After step A, pressing the edge with a fork.
- C: After step A, use your thumb and index finger to pinch and fold the edge towards the centre of the pocket. Repeat all the way around the edge (as shown in the images in the post).
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.