Garlic chives are native to East Asia. This herb can be found all over the continent from Mongolia to the Philippines. Garlic chives have been cultivated in China for more than 3,000 years. This herb was also documented as having health benefits in ancient Chinese medical texts written during the Ming Dynasty. Garlic chives were prescribed to treat joint and muscle pain as well as frequent urination.
It is important to note that garlic chives differ from garlic scapes, which refers to the green part of the garlic plant. They are related to garlic scapes and share many of the same properties but are also dissimilar in some ways.
Garlic chives go by several names in addition to its Latin name, Allium tuberosum. You will sometimes see garlic chives referred to as Chinese chives or Chinese leeks.
Garlic chives are still widely used throughout Asia today, both for their medicinal benefits as well as their culinary ones.
Garlic chives flavor profile
As the name suggests, garlic chives have a garlic flavor. The garlic notes are lighter than those that you would get from garlic in much the same way that regular chives offer a subtler onion flavor when compared to green onions. Keep in mind that while the garlic notes are milder than garlic, garlic chives are still very aromatic and have a strong savory or vegetal quality similar to leeks. Some people may consider its smell to be unpleasantly aggressive.
When considering the flavor of garlic chives, note that the Chinese recognize three different varieties: The standard type known as gau (or gow) choy is the first of the varieties. Another is gau choy fa, which are the flowering chives that have an even stronger garlic flavor. Gau wong refers to a pale variety cultivated without sunlight and which is also called yellow chives or albino chives. They have a character that is milder and more oniony.
Health benefits of garlic chives
Garlic chives are full health benefits like most other plants that belong to the Allium genus. The health benefits come from nutrients like:
- Vitamins: Garlic chives are rich in various vitamins, including vitamins A as well as vitamins B2 and vitamin C.
- Minerals: You can get calcium, potassium and iron from garlic chives.
- Fiber: Garlic chives are rich in dietary fiber.
You can use garlic chives as a part of your diet to treat or prevent health problems like:
- Heart disease: Both the antioxidant effects of vitamin A and vitamin C along with the high fiber content allow garlic chives to be useful for preventing cardiovascular illness.
- Intestinal issues: Because of its high fiber content, garlic chives can help to prevent issues like constipation and may also reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.
Garlic chives show up most often in Chinese and Chinese-style cuisine. They show up in numerous dishes from stir-fries to egg rolls and dumplings. You can use them in recipes from other parts of Asia as well, such as in Korean garlic chive pancakes. They are excellent in Western dishes, where they make great alternatives to both garlic and chives. Note that as in Chinese cuisine, it is better to use garlic chives in cooked preparations. Add them to omelets and use them in salad dressings to provide flavor and to enhance visual appeal. Only add garlic chives at the end of the cooking time since the herb’s flavor cannot handle exposure to heat for long periods.
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