Also known as Chinese chives, Nira, or ku chair, garlic chives are a fantastic addition to any stir fry or soup, or can be used on their own for a tasty dish. Flat narrow leaves and a decidedly garlic flavor identify this herb commonly used in Asian cooking. Garlic chives do not taste or look like what we call chives, and are cooked as a vegetable in the areas in Asia where they are most commonly grown. There are three forms: green leaf, yellow or blanched, and flowering. Garlic chives are commonly steamed whole, simmered in broths, stirred into thick soups, or cooked gently with vegetables. These tender leaves become sweet and plump when cooked with a liquid.
Every part of the garlic chive plant is edible, from its small bulb to its flat (not hollow, like other chives') stems to its white blooms and even its tiny black seeds. Use both stalk and leaves of this mild garlicky-flavored vegetable as you would onions, chives, or green onions. Like other members of the garlic and onion family, garlic chives contain a sulfur-rich mustard oil that aids digestion and helps promote the flow of blood.
The Chinese have been growing and cooking with garlic chives for at least 3,000 years, but the popularity of this herb with the pretty white flowers extends beyond China. Japanese cooks call garlic chives “nira” and use them frequently in meat and seafood recipes. Most South Asian chefs would not consider a noodle stir-fry dish complete without adding chopped fresh garlic chives for a bit of extra flavor.
Storing & Cooking Information
Handling: Garlic chives are usually best added to a dish at the last minute. Remove any wilting leaves, wash, and chop.
Storing: Refrigerate in a plastic bag to keep for about a week.