Name Variations[edit | edit source]
- gow choy
- flowering chives
- garlic chives
- ku chai
- Korean chives
- bu chu
- nira grass
About Chinese chives[edit | edit source]
Wikipedia Article About Chinese Chives on Wikipedia
Garlic chives (Simplified Chinese: 韭菜; traditional Chinese: 韭菜; pinyin: jiǔcài, also 韮菜), also known as Chinese chives, Chinese leek, Ku chai or Nira is a relatively new vegetable in the English-speaking world. The plant has a distinctive growth habit with strap-shaped leaves unlike either onion or garlic and straight thin white-flowering stalks that are much taller than the leaves.
It grows in slowly expanding, perennial clumps, but also readily sprouts from seed. It is not only an interesting vegetable, but a very attractive flower. The cultivated form is Allium tuberosum while the wild form is placed as A. ramosum. Older references list it as A. odorum but that is now considered a synonym of A. ramosum. Some botanists would place both wild and cultivated forms in A. ramosum since many intermediate forms exist.
The flavor of garlic chives is rather more like garlic than chives, though much milder. Both leaves and the stalks of the flowers are used as a flavoring similarly to chives, green onions or garlic and are used as a stir fry ingredient. In China, they are often blanched by covering them in the spring. The flowers may also be used as a spice.
There are four main varieties of nira grass: green nira grass which is dark green in color and has a distinct pungent taste; yellow nira grass which is pale yellow in color and has a mild onion flavor; gau choy fa which has rounded stems that have a small flower bud at the tip; gau choy sum which resembles gau choy fa in visual appearance but has its own distinct flavor. The nira grass should have the tough ends cut off before using. It adds a rich flavor to any dish and is commonly used in soups and salads or added to a sandwich much in the same manner an onion would be. Nira grass is also known as "Chinese chives." Nira grass is available throughout the year. When selecting, chose those that have fresh looking stems and leaves that have a lot of color, avoiding those with slimy areas. Use shortly after purchasing, but if you will not be using immediately, store them wrapped in a damp paper towel in the refrigerator.
Many garden centers carry it (usually unaware of its culinary uses) as do most oriental specialty groceries whenever they have fresh produce at all.