Jiucai (韭菜) is garlic chives which is the main ingredient.Hezi (盒子) means box or pockets. In this recipe, it refers to its wrapper; kind of like a dumpling but much bigger and it is pan-fried until golden brown. You can think of it as the Chinese empanadas. It is super delicious and let’s get started.
INGREDIENTS (Enough to make 12 chive boxes)
For the wrapper
- 350 grams (12.34 oz) of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 140 grams (4.94 oz) of hot water
- 90 grams (3.17 oz) of cold water
- 1/8 tsp of yeast
- 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
For the filling
- 250 grams (8.81 oz) of garlic chives
- 80 grams (2.82 oz) of mung bean noodles
- 1.5 tsp of dark soy sauce
- 1-2 tbsp of sesame oil to coat the noodles and the garlic chives
- 3 eggs, well beaten
- 2-3 tbsp of oil to cook the egg
- 5-6 tbsp of dried baby shrimp
- 2.5 tbsp of soy sauce
- 1 tsp of 13 spices or 5 spice powder
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2/3 tsp of salt or to taste
1. Make the dough for the wrapper
Combine the all-purpose flour and salt. Mark a line through the middle of the bowl to roughly divide the flour in half.
Pour the hot water to one-half of the flour and stir to mix. Let it cool for 5 minutes.
Dissolve the yeast into the room temperature water and pour it into the other half of the flour. Stir to mix.
Knead the dough again until smooth. Shape into a log then wrap with a plastic film. Let it proof for 20 minutes.
Knowledge points: Hot water will denature the protein and give you an extra soft and tender dough. We use a small amount of yeast so the dough should be slightly leavened, which provides a texture that is a combination of pleasantly chewy and fluffy.
Souped Up Tips: You should pour the hot water first. Let it cool then work on the yeast water. If you reverse the steps, you might kill the yeast by accident when you pour in the hot water.
2. Make the filling
Heat your wok until it is smoking hot. Add 2-3 tbsp of oil and swirl it around to cover the bottom of the wok. Turn the heat to low and pour in the beaten egg. Stir with a pair of chopsticks as fast as possible. By doing that, the egg will be scrambled into small little bits. Take it out and set it aside.
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and use it to soak the mung bean noodles for 1-2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Dice the mung bean noodles into 1/2 of an inch long pieces. Mix with 1.5 tsp of dark soy sauce so it is nice and brown. Coat the noodles with 2 tsp of sesame oil to prevent stickiness. Set it aside.
Dice the garlic chives and coat with 1.5 tbsp of sesame oil. The oil will protect the chives so the sodium won’t draw out too much moisture from the chives. Otherwise, your filling will turn out watery and soggy once you add the seasonings. You can use this trick for any vegetable fillings.
Garlic chives (韭菜): Nothing tastes similar so I don’t know any replacement but you can still make this recipe with other aromatics such as fennel leaves, cilantro, diced onion. The flavor will be different but you can call it fennel box, cilantro box, or onion box.
Combine the mung bean noodles, fried egg, diced chives, dried baby shrimp, and garlic. Season with 2.5 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp of 5 spice powder, and 2/3 tsp of salt and toss to mix thoroughly. Set it aside.
Dried baby shrimp (虾皮): It has a strong umami taste and goes really well with the garlic chives. You can finely dice some fresh shrimp or rehydrated dried shitake mushroom as a replacement. Just be aware that the dried baby shrimp is quite salty. If you switch to a different ingredient you will have to adjust the sodium amount.
3. Wrap the chive box and cook
Divide dough into 12 even pieces, 45-50 grams each. Roll them into round smooth balls, then into round wrappers (5 inches in diameter).
To wrap the box, just put some filling in the middle of the wrapper. Fold it in half. Gently push out as much air as possible. Press the edge tightly and make pleats all the way around.
Pan-fry the chive box in cast iron skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Each side takes 2-3 minutes.
You will not believe how tasty this is. I mean, For the people that have never had this before, it is hard to imaging the flavor. There is no meat in the filling, but the combination of noodles, egg, and garlic chives is just unbelievably delicious. That baby shrimp gives a really unique taste. Also, Springtime is the best season to enjoy garlic chives. It is fresh, slightly sweet and extra garlicky. I hope you give this a try soon…