Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Quarantine Cooking Series: Chinese Chive Pockets

One of my mom's favorite foods is chive pockets (韭菜盒子).  It's basically a large, flat, pan-fried dumpling shaped like an empanada, stuffed with chopped chives, scrambled eggs, dried shrimp, and vermicelli noodles.  Sometimes woodear mushrooms are incorporated as well, but Wes vetoed that ingredient.  I love ordering these at restaurants, but never dared try to make my own because it just seemed too labor-intensive.  Well, now with all restaurants off limits, there is no better time to try my hand at these.  I attempted these later into the quarantine because I kept chickening out, but finally close to the end of summer school, I decided that I could focus my energies on making these!

I must say that we've gotten the Kitchen Aid out more times in the last two months than over the entire life span of the machine in our dominion.  Whether it was for French baguettes or naan, we were making good use out of it!  Most recipes tell you to knead the dough by hand, but it turned out fine with the Kitchen Aid.  Call us lazy, but we also got out the tortilla press to initially form each wrapper after dividing up the dough.  Wes joked that our ancestors would be rolling in their graves seeing us be so untraditional.  Not to worry, there was still plenty to roll with the wooden rolling pin...we were just trying to be resourceful.

In the end, we realized that it was really not hard to make, but just involves many steps that can be time-consuming.  As if chopping the chives, scrambling and chopping the eggs, soaking and chopping the vermicelli, and stir frying the dried shrimp for the filling wasn't enough work, there also was the rolling and crimping of the dough wrappers.  We did it assembly-line style, Wes was in charge of rolling and I was in charge of crimping.  However, just like the recipe says, it is just not the same at all with store-bought dumpling wrappers because first of all, they would be puny, and second of all, the texture would not be chewy enough.  I really loved how these turned out, and they held up really well to a nice pan sear.  Wes was in charge of that part, since he's the king of making perfectly golden brown potstickers!  After I posted my pictures of the cross section on Instagram, friends and family were all over us.  I guess that means that we'll be making more in the near future!  I posted the adapted recipe here for safekeeping, but please refer to the linked blog for all of the details.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups hot water
  • 2 teaspoons of oil (optional)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup papery dried shrimp
  • 50 g dried mung bean vermicelli noodles
  • 2 tablespoons peanut/vegetable oil, separated
  • 1/2 lb (225 g) garlic chives
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  1. Put the flour into a heatproof bowl (in my case, my stand mixer bowl). Pour in hot water (180 degrees F, if you want to be exact). With the dough hook, knead on low until it forms a soft, smooth dough--about 5-8 minutes.  If doing by hand, stir in the hot water with a chopstick or fork and let it cool a little before handling.
  2. Cover the bowl with a wet kitchen towel. Leave to rest for 30 mins.
  3. Prepare the filling while the dough rests. Beat the eggs with the Shaoxing rice wine and dash of salt.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat.  Add the dry shrimp. Cook and stir until it turns golden brown, 1 minute or less.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium-sized pan over medium heat.  Add the egg mixture and scramble until the eggs just begin to firm up. Transfer to a cutting board to cool.  When cool, coarsely cut into small pieces.
  6. Soak vermicelli noodles in hot water for 5 minutes. Rinse under cold water until pliable. Chop into small pieces.  
  7. Wash and chop the chives into 1/4" pieces.
  8. Add the chives into a large bowl. Add the sesame oil and dash of salt.  Mix with a spatula until the chives are evenly coated with a thin layer of oil.
  9. Add the eggs, the dried shrimp, and the vermicelli noodles.
  10. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each portion into a bowl.  It is helpful to keep the ones that you are not working with covered to retain moisture.
  11. With a rolling pin, roll each piece into a round, thin wrapper (about 6 inches in diameter), rotating as you go to keep the shape circular. It may help to oil the surface that you're working on first.  We used the tortilla press hack, but still needed to rotate and roll each piece of dough with oomph after.
  12. Place two heaping spoonfuls of filling in the middle, then fold the wrapper in half and press together the edges.  Then, hold the "pocket" up in one hand and use your other hand to crimp the edges from one side to the other, following the semicircle shape.  I do the pull-tuck-and-squeeze technique, it's a lot of pincer grasping and finger dexterity but very straightforward when you get the hang of it!  You honestly can do whatever you want to seal the pocket.
  13. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium high. Pan fry the Chinese chive pockets until the bottom turns golden brown, 2 minutes or so.  Flip them over and add about 2 tablespoons of water (depends on how many chive pockets you have in your pan), cover the pan and decrease the heat slightly. Steam for about 2 minutes or until water has evaporated and your pockets begin to brown. Remove the cover and your chive pockets, or leave them a little longer if they are still not brown enough on the bottom.
  14. Serve hot with a dipping sauce of Chinkiang vinegar, soy sauce, and chili oil. 

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