Saturday, November 27, 2004


Recipe: Sauteed Garlic Sprouts

Compared to other vegetables available in Singapore, it seems that garlic sprouts don't enjoy a very high profile here. It's only recently that I see them being sold more regularly in supermarkets and wet markets. Also known as garlic stems, they are imported from China. I did a Google, and here's some information from this link:

Chinese garlic stems, garlic flower stems, green garlic
suan tai (Chinese), shen sum (Korean)
(Allium sativum)

Chinese garlic has a symmetrical bulb in thin purple or silver skin, but has little flavour. Its stems should not be confused with the inedible fibrous tops of curled garlic often found at Farmer's Markets and specialty markets. These greens are about a foot long and not hollow like the green onions. They are solid and about the width of a pencil. If snapped or cut, the aroma is unmistakably garlic. In China, garlic flower stems are a side product of the garlic bulb of strains known to produce them. The bulbs are cultivated in the usual way, but the flower stems are cut in early summer when they are green and harvested very carefully so that the bulb will not be damaged and can be left to mature. The stems are usually twelve to eighteen inches in length and sold in bundles. They are too strong for most people to use raw; but, if quickly cooked, they are an excellent addition to dishes requiring a hint or two of garlic.

Those that I've spoken to either didn't know about the existence of this veggie, or didn't know how to prepare it. That's such a shame because garlic sprouts are highly aromatic, amazingly quick and simple to prepare, and wondrously sweet-tasting. Since they come from the garlic plant, you'll either love or hate their pungent, garlickly fragrance. When buying garlic sprouts, make sure that the stems and ends look green and fresh throughout. If too much of the stem is white, it'll taste tough and fibrous. Also, choose those with fat stems.

Of course, there are lots of ways you can cook garlic sprouts, but my favorite (and simplest) way is just to saute them till they are sweet and tender. This dish tastes good whether hot or cold. From this basic recipe, you can make variations by adding other ingredients.

Sauteed Garlic Sprouts

1 bunch of garlic sprouts (usually 200gms)
2 cloves of garlic
salt, sugar
toasted sesame seeds (to garnish)

1. Snap off the woody ends of the garlic sprouts. Wash and cut them into 2-inch lengths.

2. Heat up a little oil, just enough to coat the pan. Saute the garlic cloves slightly to release their aroma.

3. Add the garlic sprouts, sprinkle a pinch of salt over them, and saute over moderately low heat. Stir them every 15 seconds or so to ensure that the garlic sprouts don't burn and are evenly cooked.

4. When the sprouts turn tender (after about 5 minutes), do a taste test. Add a pinch of sugar and more salt, according. Remove to a dish, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.

Variation: Season with some chilli powder or sliced chilli if you like it spicy. I also like the addition of chicken frank or fishcake slices.



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