I was not too fond of chive pockets or jiu cai he zi to begin with, because I was never a fan of Chinese chives. They usually have a strong smell, and when they're chopped, they can get stuck in your teeth.
However, my mum loves chives, so when she took over the cooking after my husband and I had our second baby, we ate them a lot. Surprisingly, the first dish she made with chives was jiu cai he zi — chive pockets. They were outstanding. The pocket skins were crispy and crunchy, and the chopped chives were blended with fried eggs; the smell wasn't strong at all.
My mum taught me how to make these during my maternity leave. They are actually quite straight forward.
For the filling, just mix some garlic and chopped chives with fried eggs. Back in China, my aunty used to add cooked skinny rice noodles (sometimes vermicelli).
To make a pocket, roll the dough into a large round sheet, add the filling in the centre, and fold it into a half-moon-shaped pocket. Pan-frying the pockets makes them crispy quickly. If you prefer an extra crispy and thicker coating, use a bit more oil — either peanut oil or duck fat is great. Pan-frying is the best way to cook the pockets as it's an easy way to adjust the heat and monitor the pockets. Don't try to bake them. It won't work, I've tried. I thought to take a short cut but failed, the pockets were still raw, and the chives didn't cook through.
I used to buy a jiu cai he zi from street-food stalls on the way home after school during my childhood in China. Vendors would skillfully pack the filling into paper-thin pockets. But it might be easier to make them a bit thicker at home. Just remember handling and rolling the dough out carefully will make cooking them much easier.
"I used to buy a jiu cai he zi from street-food stalls on the way home after school during my childhood in China."
Some cooks like to add fresh or dry shrimps to the filling, but my family and I have always preferred vegetarian ones. Chinese chives can be easily found in supermarkets, but sometimes we use regular garlic chives instead — they taste just as good.
Chinese chive pockets
- 2 cups flour
- ½ cup boiling water
- ¼ cup cold water
- 1 bunch of garlic chives, cut, washed and thinly sliced
- 3 fried and finely chopped eggs
- 50 g vermicelli, soak in warm water for 15 minutes; drained and diced (optional)
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- A little bit of salt and black pepper (this depends on personal preference)
- Chilli oil, for dipping
- Cooking oil
1. Put the flour into a large bowl.
2. Add the boiling water to the flour and mix.
3. Once mixed, add the cold water and continue mixing until it forms a ball.
4. Knead until soft and elastic (about 5 minutes).
5. Roll out into a long rope and cut into pieces (try to cut them into the same sized dough). Keep unused bits under a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.
6. Roll into a sphere and flatten it, then roll out circular skins.
7. Fill with the filling, fold into a half-mooned shape, and set aside.
8. Pan fry on medium to medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
9. Serve and enjoy!
There are many versions of beef with rice noodles in Chinese cuisine, but they all have one thing in common: they're all equally hearty and comforting on a cold night!