Saturday, January 29, 2005

Chive Box - 韭菜盒子

Chinese chive holds a special power over me: it makes me want to cook Chinese food. The last time I cooked Chinese, which was months ago, was also because of some chives that I bought.

This time, I bought the chives and immediately thought of Chive Box, a pancake with a stuffing of chives and ground pork. I have not had this in years, and I have no idea why it's called a box, since the finished product looks nothing like a box. I do remember, however, that special fragrance that chive and pork produces together.

I am not sure how the dough should be for chive box, so I resort to my scallion pancake dough. Three cups of flour plus about 200ml of boiling water. You could use cold water, but the boiling water makes the dough soft, which is what you want. After forming the dough, let it rest covered for at least half an hour. This relaxes the dough and makes it easier to roll out.

While the dough is resting, you can prepare the stuffing:
Two bunches of Chinese chives (200g total)
One piece of ginger, ground (to taste, about 1 to 2 tbsp)
Ground pork 180g (which is the package size at my supermarket, you can adjust the amount)
Chinese vermicelli 1 pkg (I'm guessing it's around 50g)

First you chop the chives really fine. This should not be done in a food processor because that will cause the chive to bleed out too much liquid. Next mix the ginger and ground pork, and combine with the chives. Meanwhile, boil a big bowl of water to soak the vermicelli until it's soft. Drain out all the liquid, and cut into small pieces. Mix the pork, chives, and vermicelli all together. I had two egg yolks left from making cookies, so I threw them in as well, to make the stuffing stick together.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan, add stuffing, season with 2 tsp salt, dump in some white pepper (I use a lot because I love it), and cook for about 3 minutes, until meat is almost done. Sprinkle 1 tsp of sesame oil on top after removing from heat.

The dough should be ready by now. Divide dough into quarters, working with one quarter at a time, covering the rest to prevent drying. Roll one quarter of the dough into a rope, and divide into five equal parts. Roll each part into a ball and roll each ball into a round about 4 inch in diameter. Place 2 tbsp of stuffing onto dough, and seal by folding it into a semicircle and pinching the sides together, then again folding the seal over itself (third pix below, don't worry if you don't know how to do this). Next, stand it up and flatten with the palm of your hand.

Do this until all the dough is gone, now you have twenty boxes and are ready to cook them. Heat a pan with 1 tsp of oil (best if you have a cast iron pan)until pan is very hot. Place the boxes in the pan and fry 2-3 minutes per side, until golden.

We had the chive boxes with some plain rice porridge for lunch. Since I am a big fan of Chinese black vinegar (香醋), I used it as a dipping sauce. But the Chive Boxes taste just as nice without the vinegar, so you don't have to dip it in anything. Just a thought, if you don't dip it in vinegar, you might need to increase the salt you add to the stuffing, so it's not too bland.

I thought it was pretty good as a first attempt but Jason did not care too much for the vermicelli in the stuffing, saying it makes the textue weird. The man is hard to please! But I think I will leave out the vermicelli if I ever make it again. Not because Jason said so, mind you, but because a) I included the vermicelli to use it up and have no more left, and b)I ended up with some extra stuffing, so minus vermicelli should just be the perfect amount.

Note on storage: since I don't think it reheats well, I only cooked half of the boxes and froze the rest for a quick lunch some other time. I think they can be fried right out of the freezer.

Happy box-making!


Hsin said...

My gawd - you really have the patience to do this??!? It looks fantastic, but sounds like way too much work for a novice like me. Danny, on the other hand, would like to exchange me for you. Unfortunately, I wouldn't want to exchange Danny for Jason - Danny's less discerning when it comes to food.

How did you get the Chinese characters on your blog?

Lynn said...

Believe it or not, the whole thing took less than an hour, including the batch that I froze for later use. So it's entirely doable.

Jason, on the other hand, is feeling rejected because of your comment ;o)

Re: the Chinese character, I am able to type in both JPN and CHN on my computer now after installing Microsoft IME language pack.