Cooking With KokHeong: From Garden To Table – Green Eggs And No Ham

Garlic Chive, sometimes called Chinese Leek, grows in KokHeong’s garden. Photo by KokHeong McNaughton


One of the easiest-to-grow herbs in our gardens is Garlic Chive. It’s sometimes called Chinese Leek. It is so prolific that it can take over an entire garden if left untended because it self-seeds readily and bees love it (see picture). Unlike garlic, they don’t produce any bulbs underground, and like chives, their leaves are edible. They are perennials and will keep producing leaves all through the growing season to replace leaves that are harvested for food. Like garlic, their leaves are flat; unlike chives’ which are hollow. Their flower buds before opening are especially valued in Chinese cooking. Bunches of garlic chives with unopened buds are sold in Asian Markets for far more than those without.  The most sought-after garlic chives are called “Golden Garlic Chives” which are produced by growing them in a darkened environment without exposure to sunlight so that the leaves turn yellow. One year, I “accidentally” grew some Golden Garlic Chives that sprung out inside a recycled black tire covered with a piece of carpet square that was previously used as an outdoor vermicomposting site. The Golden Garlic Chives were indeed sweeter than the regular green ones, with an after-taste like licorice.

People often ask me what to do with garlic chives besides using the leaves and flower buds. Once the flowers are done blooming, you get these little green seed pods. I harvest them before the seeds mature, and make capers. Just drop them into a jar of brine (2T salt/cup of water). Leave it out for 2-3 days to get the fermentation process started, then refrigerate. I keep adding more seed pods to the jar and remove the salted capers from the bottom whenever I need some for cooking or garnishing a dish. It does not taste quite like capers, and it’s a bit tangy. 

Garlic chive seeds are easy to harvest. They fall off easily into a paper bag and can be separated from the dried chaffs by winnowing. The seeds can be pounded with a mortar and pestle into a paste to spread on toasts if you like the tangy flavor. Traditional Oriental Medicine uses the seeds to dispel dampness as Garlic Chive is considered a “heating” food.

The most common way we use Garlic Chives is in a dish that I call “Green Eggs and No Ham” (see recipe below).

Another common way to use Garlic Chives is to cut them into ~1” lengths and add them to stir-fried dishes or soups, or in Ramen.

But the best way to use Garlic Chives is for pot-stickers. You can do a vegetarian version by using the “Green Eggs and No Ham” recipe below, but break the clumps up into smaller pieces as the filling. You can also mix the chopped-up Garlic Chives with ground pork or ground chicken/turkey, some seasoning like salt or soy sauce, some clumping agent like an egg, or cornstarch. They make great pot-sticker fillings.

The most common way we use Garlic Chives is in a dish that I call “Green Eggs and No Ham” (see recipe below).

Green Eggs and No Ham 

  • ~1 C chopped Garlic Chives
  • 2 eggs
  • ~1T water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-2t olive oil

Heat oil in skillet. Mix all other ingredients. Pan fry till firm on one side and slightly browned around the edges. Turn and scramble into chunks. Continue cooking until eggs are totally done and fragrant. Serve over rice or between two pieces of toast.