Chinese chive pockets (韭菜盒子)

02Aug09

chive pocketsFinally some time to write up a recipe- I’ve been too busy with nothing, holidaying, shooting pictures, cooking simple and not so simple food, and my new addiction twitter, which is fun enough to post little things on about stuff that interests you, but seriously keeps one from blogging or writing up longer pieces altogether.

After my holiday in Malta where I cooked like 2 meals of pasta each day, because it’s perfect in hot weather, I am now back in the 20C zone of the Netherlands and not feeling happy about it. A cold drizzly summer makes me lose interest in cooking, but I know the remedy. I start flipping cookbooks or surfing YouTube to find interesting cooking videos.

Now I stumbled upon a Taiwanese television cooking series where two women, one young and one older lady, cook all kinds of Chinese specialties. The old lady is the knowledgeable cook who shows how to make all kinds of Chinese savory pastries, which has the younger pretty lady (with a fat Taiwanese accent) shrieking with delight and amazement all the time. In the video where they make ‘Chinese chive pockets‘ [韭菜盒子jiucai hezi] it takes 3 videos of 9 minutes each to show how to cook them. They go on and on about how when you make a dough with 3 cups of flour and 1 cup of water you really have to use the SAME cup and not 2 cups of different sizes, that writing it down for the blog seems somehow much faster!

Chinese chive pockets (or ‘chive boxes’) is a typically street food snack from Northern China. You can see Beijingers on the side of the road frying up all kinds of things, and this is one of the snacks everyone loves and queues for.

For this recipe, you will need (makes about 15)
dough: 1.5 cups plain flour
1/2 cup scalding hot water + 1/4 cup cold water

filling: 200 grams pork mince
a handful of glass noodles, soaked in hot water for 20 mins
a large bunch of Chinese chives, finely chopped
salt, soy sauce, white pepper, oil, sesame oil

Add the flour to a mixing bowl and pour over the water you have just boiled. Use chopsticks to mix together. The water will scald the dough, half cooking it – it will produce a much softer dough later on. Now add 1/4 cup of cold water and knead until a supple dough. Let rest for 30 minutes.

Make the filling: wash and chop the chives very finely. Put aside in a bowl and add 3 tablespoons of cooking oil. Take your pork mince and add 1/2 to 1 teaspoons of salt, add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and mix to combine. Add some pepper to your taste. Take your soaked glass noodles en cut them into tiny chunks. Add to the pork. Then add the chives (they should be almost equal in weight to the pork, even more) . Add more oil or sesame oil to make a nice juicy filling.

After 30 minutes, roll out your dough until it forms a long ‘snake’. Divide into chunks, roll them out to circles of about 10 cms wide. Put a large tablespoon or 2 tablespoons of filling on the dough and shape them into a half moon shape. Flatten with your hand. Cut off the remaining dough from the edges and crimp in beautiful pattern. This takes some practice but it is fun to do!

Heat a flat pan, non stick if you prefer, and fry your Chinese chive pockets without any oil on a low fire. They will fry gently and will break somewhere, so oil will seep out anyway in which you can continue frying. After about 20 minutes (turn occasionally) your Chinese chive pockets are done. They make a lovely snack with your favorite dipping sauce, or just plain with a little vinegar. Enjoy!

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