I used to find Chinese chives very pungent and definitely not a huge fan of it. The only time I am able to take relatively more chives (where they are typically used as garnish - meaning in small amounts) is in Mee Siam, as the tangy spicy gravy is tantalizing enough for me to forget about the strong garlicky smell and flavor of chives.
What is in the unique smell of Chives (韭菜, Jiu Cai)? Part garlic and part from the presence of (volatile) mustard oil that gives this plant antiseptic properties - healing wounds/bruises and killing germs in the intestines. Like most alliums, chives have also anti-cancer health benefits.
How best to cook Chinese chives? So pungent and strong-tasting that I have decided to combine it with a relatively bland ingredient: TOFU.
Chinese Chives and Tofu Stir-Fry
Ingredients: bunch of Chinese chives, properly rinsed and cleaned then diced; 1/2 pack of firm tofu, properly drained off water and diced to small cube; pinch of salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp curry powder to season the cubed tofu.
Directions: In a bowl, add the tofu, salt, pepper, curry powder. Cover the bowl with a plate and give it a good shake to lightly season the tofu with the seasonings. Add a little oil in pan. When oil is slight hot, add in Chinese chives and fry briskly. Then add in tofu and fry with chives for about 5-8 minutes. The chives start to soften and reduce in volume. Do not over the chives. Dish out and serve.
Cooking Tip: Don't feel like turning on the stove? I have tried roasting and it worked very well too. Prepare the ingredients just like in the above recipe. Lay the chives on a aluminum foil, drizzle some olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper over the chives, then add in seasoned tofu, toss well with the chives, seal the foil, and bake in oven (375F) for about 15 minutes. And a Chives-Tofu Bake is one step away.
Such an easy appetizer 小菜 or side-dish to make. Just like Rasa Malaysia's Chives Omelet that goes well with porridge, I also like eating this Chives and Tofu dish with plain rice porridge (congee) but of course, steamed rice works well too.
As tofu is relatively bland, it is so good to combine it with a strong-tasting ingredient usually (such as chives, celery and Chinese celery) to tone down the strong-tasting ingredient and dial up the tofu flavor. All in all, a perfect balance.
This is for Two for Tuesdays: REAL FOOD.. REAL FOOD is not at all difficult to make.
Tag: chives, tofu
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