Source for Garlic Shoots
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Lin Suffron
Posted on: June 15, 2002

I recently bought something called garlic shoots in a specialty chinese food store. They are sort of like a coarser stemmed chive, but taste like asparagus and garlic. I would like to grow this myself, but can’t find any seeds or plants to grow. Would you happen to carry these, or know where else I could try to find them?

According to our Chinese herbs specialist, Lisa Li, you probably bought the flowering stalks of garlic, known botanically as "scapes". According to Lisa, Chinese eat fresh garlic scapes in three ways: (1.) as a fresh vegetable to nibble on; (2.) marinated in salt brine to tenderize and served uncooked on soups or other dishes; and (3.) as a stir-fried ingredient.

There are other candidates but Lisa has not seen them in the extensive local Chinese markets in Toronto, so she is inclined to suspect that what you bought were the scapes of garlic. The welsh onion (Allium fistulosum), which are like a bigger version of the ordinary onion chives (A. schoenoprasum), and other members of Allium such as A. odorum and possibly even A. tuberosum, the garlic chives, are also used in stir-fries. In the case of garlic chives, it is again the flowering stalks that are preferred in Chinese stir-fries, in contrast to the typical Western culinary use of the fresh leaves.

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