Many Chinese vegetables available at the markets are sold in multiple forms and maturities. Vegetables that are going into flower are also appreciated and are usually labeled with an indication with a final word or character hua 花.
Today’s item is a stem of the garlic chive plant (allium tuberosum), and it is crunchy and delicious. Its name in Mandarin and Cantonese (Languages most common in Philly’s Chinatown) is jiucai hua/gauchoy faa 韭菜花.
I’ve eaten this most commonly with stir fry dishes like the one below, but I’ve also eaten it as kimchi (called buchu kimchi)
The leaves of this vegetable are delicious in Chinese dumplings and omelets, and the leaves are marketed simply as jiucai/gauchoy 韭菜. A nice image of these leaves can be found here. I’ve also seen this labeled at some Chinese markets with a variant name of 九菜.
Tonight we made a simple stir fry with flowering garlic chives. We used pork, fresh Thai chiles, garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar:
I find the fibrous crunchy texture of this vegetable particularly attractive. It is naturally full of flavor, and is great simply with a little soy sauce.