Have you ever heard of the yellow chive?
Or perhaps I should start a bit more basic. Have you heard of Chinese chives in general? You’ll often see Chinese chives referred to as “leeks” on Chinese menus (ever heard of the pork and leek dumpling?), when in reality, they are really quite different from those large, super-sized scallions-like things we call leeks in America.
Chinese chives are a member of the allium family, which also includes garlic, scallions, and onions. These chives have a wonderful fragrance, sort of like garlic, but much sweeter and less pungent. In fact, some people call Chinese chives garlic chives. Chinese chives are hardy perennials that grow quite well in home gardens. When I was a kid, our Taiwanese neighbors would always drop by extra “crop” that they couldn’t finish.
Yellow chives are unique because they have been kept away from the sun. As a result, they never develop those characteristic dark green, hardy stems. Instead, yellow chives are more tender, milder, and sweeter in flavor – arguably considered a bit more of a delicacy. They cost about twice as much as normal Chinese chives, and are a bit harder to find.
One of my favorite home-cooked Chinese dishes is traditional Chinese chives with 5-spice tofu. As a twist, I decided to try replacing the traditional green chive with its albino cousin, the delicate yellow chive.
What I love about yellow chives, or any Chinese chive in general, is that they are so fragrant on their own, you don’t have to add additional aromatics. Being members of the allium family, they provide their own fragrant aromas.
This makes cooking them so so easy.
Heat up a wok (or fry pan) on high with about a tablespoon of oil. Add the chopped chives and cover, letting them cook for a few minutes until soft. You can stir them around a bit if you’d like.If needed, add a dash of water to the hot wok and cover.
5-spice tofu (or pressed bean curd) is also very fragrant, and thus does not need much additional flavoring. After the yellow chives have softened, add the sliced tofu. I like to cut the tofu into strips approximately the same size as the yellow chives.
The pressed tofu is already cooked, so you really just need to heat it up. Stir everything around until well mixed. Add flavoring agents (I like to add white pepper and salt, but you can go ahead and use black pepper or whatever you fancy).
Once it is seasoned to your liking, serve!
I love this dish. It’s so simple yet so packed with flavor. Seriously, if I had a Chinese grocery store closer to me, I’d be making this dish every week.
Serves 2-3 | Prep and Cook time – 15 minutes
2 blocks of 5-spice tofu (available in Asian markets), thinly sliced into matchsticks
1 bunch of yellow chives, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp white pepper (or to taste)
Heat wok up to medium high heat with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add chives and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes, or until chives are softened. Add 5-spice beancurd. Stir until well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste.
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