Ultimately, garlic chives were created for dumplings.
A perfect cross between wild garlic and chives, it packs a punch that rocks the humble dumpling out of this world. There are a couple of things that are non-negotiable about the garlic chive. It gets along very well with pork, prawns and so on but if you introduce it to anything with a delicate and let’s say, more whimsical character, the garlic chive will in most cases gun it down. Second, it’s not as juicy and if you’re buying garlic chives that have travelled air/sea miles, even less so. We used to grow and cut them fresh from the garden. Gluts of garlic chive led to dumplings with more chive than meat in them and we felt very luxurious in being able to indulge in such excess. Unlike other vegetables we grew, beans and marrow, it’s harder to get sick of herbs and I never tired of the boisterous garlic chive.
Herbs in general are a fantastic way of flavouring different types of mince. Coriander is my favourite. I have to keep my love for the garlic chive and coriander separate because they don’t really bring out the best in each other. When I think of coriander I think of a spectrum of partnerships that range from silken tofu, fish and shitake mushrooms to peanut and coconut curries. Coriander is a team-player. Although I know that garlic chive is a bulldozer, I have never actually tested my theory with coriander. I happened to have both in the fridge and in the absence of an authoritative opinion from my mother, I thought I’d give it a try.
Compared to the basic recipe I didn’t have enough shrimp, so I also chopped up some king prawns. Celery wise, we chopped all but the inner core finely, sprinkled some salt over and squeezed out the excess water. I replaced leek with garlic chive and a few stems of chopped coriander.
The outcome? Well the garlic chive did dominate, but it wasn’t such a bad faux-pas as my mother made it out to be afterwards when I told her about it. Guess you don’t know till you try, but at the same time, this wasn’t a ground-breaking combination and the dumplings lacked juiciness. Small victory indeed.
After our dumpling making sessions we usually have some leftover dough. The dough on its own is pretty bland. After all, it’s just flour and water. What we like to do is to make a type of flatbread. In principle it’s probably closer to puff pastry and we call them pancakes, because it sounds more like a treat.
Roll the dough as thin as you can. Sprinkle a small pinch of table salt, some oil and some remaining herbs.
Spread the oil and filling evenly across the surface.
Roll into any shape that will fit into the pan and fry in oil on both sides.
The oil is meant to separate the layers whilst cooking. However I made the layers too thick and didn’t put in enough oil so the layers only rose in a couple of uneven bubbles. I tried adding a dash of water to see if the steam would help it rise, but this didn’t make a huge difference.
Notes: Garlic chive takes much longer to cook, so it’s less suitable for flatbread, and dumplings require longer steaming during cooking.
For flatbread, thinner layers and more oil will be needed to separate the layers. Try stretching the pastry with fingers, arms and elbows like making apfel strudel pastry first (until you can read a magazine through it) and add more oil.
Coriander is more beautiful without the help of garlic chives. Garlic chives are best in fried dumplings and coriander suits the boiled version even better.