Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Chinese Chive Box (韭菜盒子)

Here's a recipe for something i made this summer: Chinese chive boxes (韭菜盒子). Chinese chive boxes are considered to be one of the many classic street foods that we have in Taiwan. Although classic, it has been increasingly hard to find chive box-stands around the city nowadays-- most of the stalls have been replaced with more Western and Japanese dishes designed to appeal to the younger public. In recent years, I've found myself having a hard time finding something to eat at night markets even when surrounded by hundreds of options. And after walking through all the lanes, i usually end up with other classics such as: stinky tofu, oyster vermicelli, or a mung bean douhua (tofu pudding). Sigh, I guess it's a sign of aging when you start developing routines and sticking to specific foods. Bright lights and flashy creations just don't catch my attention anymore-- I head straight towards the tried-and-true oldies that never disappoint. So with diminishing Chive box-stands around Taiwan (Kaohsiung and Taichung specifically), I thought it was time to make my own.

I know a lot of people don't really like the strong taste and smell of Chinese chives, especially when they're such powerful fly attractants. Have you ever noticed that? No matter how tight i thought my windows are sealed, when i'm chopping Chinese chives in the house, there's always that one fly that manages to get in and pest around. So if you're one of those people who can't stand chives, it's best to just admire the pictures and never come back to this page. If you're fine with them though, be sure to try this out sometime, you won't regret it!

Chinese Chive Boxes
  • 2 portions Cellophane noodles (70 grams)
  • 300g Chinese garlic chives (i cut off the beady heads for these, but its optional)
  • 280g ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons dried (tiny) shrimp
  • 3 grams salt [or to taste]
  • 3 grams chicken powder [or to taste]
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper [or to taste]
  • 2-3 tablespoons light sesame oil (香油)

  • DOUGH:
    [I used 3 cups flour and had quite a lot of dough left over. Just keep in mind that the golden ratio for the dough is 3 flour : 1 hot water : 0.5 cold water; adjust the the ingredients accordingly!]
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  1. Boil the cellophane noodles until they become soft and transparent. Strain and chop the noodles into small strands (1 centimemter in length). Set aside [picture 1].
  2. Wash and chop the chives into 0.5 centimemter peices. Set aside [picture 2].
  3. In a frying pan, cook the ground pork until done. Set aside [picture 3].
  4. Mix the 2 eggs together and fry until done. Then chop the eggs into small pieces. Set aside[picture 4].
  5. Set the stove on medium low heat and quickly saute the shrimp in light sesame oil (30 seconds) .
  6. Add in the chives, cellophane noodles, ground pork, and eggs [picture 5, 6, 7].
  7. Season with salt, chicken powder, sugar, black pepper (to taste). Your filling is now ready. Set it aside while you make the dough [picture 8].

  8. In a big mixing bowl, measure out 3 cups of flour (or less. keep in mind the 3:1:0.5 ratio!).
  9. Pour in 1 cup of hot water and using chopsticks/spatula, quickly mix the water and dough together until it forms clumps [picture 1].
  10. If the dough is too hot to work with, let it cool for a while.
  11. Start kneading the dough, slowly adding cold water to it until it forms a smooth ball (you may not use up the 1/2 cup of cold water).
  12. Cut the dough into pieces weighing 40 grams each.
  13. Roll the dough out into a circle. Spoon the prepared filling onto the dough [picture 2].
  14. Fold the dough in half, cutting off the uneven edges with the sides of a bowl [picture 3]. Pleat to seal the edges [picture 4, 5].
  15. Heat a non-stick saute pan over medium heat. Brush with olive oil once hot.
  16. Add in the chive boxes and pan fry about 2-3 minutes per side until it's nice and golden[picture 6].
  17. LOW-FAT Chive Boxes (what i did)= place the chive boxes directly onto a heated non-stick pan WITHOUT any oil. Heat on both sides until the crust is crisp and golden(pictured below).
Chinese Chive Boxes


  1. is this chives? the ones you used looked like scallions.

  2. wow! I should try this since I have a bunch of garlic chives in my refrigerator! Thanks for the post!

  3. @Anonymous: Yes dear, these are 100% real Taiwanese garlice Chives :D http://herbs-spices.info/images/SpiceImages/garlic_chives.jpg

    @Claire: Glad to know you're a garlic chive lover as well!

  4. Yet another dish I wasn't aware of!

    I only recently tried Chinese chives (in homemade ramen), and I really liked them. I didn't find them too strong at all (maybe they were old chives that had lost some of their kick?), and it was a nice change from scallions.

  5. yummmmmmm u are the best cook!!

  6. Oh, i forgot to ask these questions:

    1. Should you add salt or oil to make the dough?
    2. About how many chive boxes were you able to make with the amount of filling you had?
    3. Should I halve the dough recipe to make the amount of filling you have in your recipe?

    Thanks! Really want to make it..

  7. Oh I love this!!! I also love fan tuan. you know, the glutinous rice with the pork floss and stuff? Can you teach me how to make that prettyplease! :)

  8. @Claire:
    1) Of course, you can add a little bit of salt to it for more flavor, although that is optional. And no need to put oil in the dough. I made mine without any oil and heated them without any oil either.
    2) The amount of chive boxes made really depends on how much you filling put into each one. I made about 9-10.
    3) I Think you should use 2/3 of the recipe just to be on the safe side. [2 c flour: 2/3 C boiling water, 1/3 C cold water]. I rolled my dough out REALLY thin with lots of filling. Maybe that's why i had so much dough leftover.
    I REALLY HOPE you like it!

    @Vic: oooh fan tuans are yummy! I'll try to make it sometime when my exams are over (march maybe?)

  9. Thank you for your prompt response! I do plan to make this weekend...thanks for tips.

    While you're on the topic of recipe requests...do you have a good recipe for the Taiwanese pineapple cakes with the pineapple jam in the middle?

    I have made Ci Fan Tuan before, it's best to use a sushi mat with plastic wrap on top to help you roll up the Fan Tuan...hope to see your posting on this!

  10. These should bring the Chinese New Year mood into the house. I should be making these!! Thanks for sharing!

    Happy Valentine's Day! And Gong Xi Fat Choi!!!

    Sawadee from Bangkok,


    I just got married and my wife is Taiwanese. Her Aunt makes these for her and she absolutely loves them. Sadly, there's only one restaurant to buy them locally and really they aren't very good (plus the wife's not much of a cook herself.)

    I had run across your blog looking for a Gua Bao recipe but decided to try my hand at these first. So when she got home from work yesterday she found me beginning to prepare these and she pretty much did the snoopy-happy-dance right there in our kitchen.

    We made them and they were fantastic...though are chives weren't very garlicky so I'll be adding regular garlic next time.

    Anyway, thanks again - you've made my wife love me just a little bit more. I look forward to trying out Gua Bao, egg tarts, and steamed pork buns in the very near future!

  12. @Dominic: I'm so glad you enjoyed the taiwanese recipes! Thanks for stopping by!

  13. Mmm. So good! We got a lot of Chinese chives from hte market so I decided to try your recipe. Delicious! Husband said this dish should be "in the rotation." :) Thank you!