I tend to buy "new ingredients" time to time. Just to play around with variety in food, and also to learn how to cook different dishes.
One ingredient that I avoid like the plague is "ku chai", also known as chinese chives. Never found them fascinating, because they are quite tasteless and don't seem to have any nutritional value. Used to think chives were like onions and garlic.
That was until I started cooking myself, and realised what difference onions and garlic make to a dish! Onions for subtle sweetness, and garlic when fried for added flavour and the benefit of warding off the cold.
But chives?? I have not figured out why we eat chives, other than the fact that they add colour to an otherwise plain looking dish. So I decided to buy a bunch of chives early this month.
It was so much that I could cook 3 dishes (and more actually!)
The first is chijimi, or some might call it Korean pancake. Started raving about this when I had a really good one in an izakaya in Tokyo. Hyun also made it in one of my home parties, so I figured I could make it myself too.
My personal favourite of a savoury seafood pancake, this can be an appetiser too. Goes well with a sour-salty-spicy sauce (preferably with Korean chili paste, soy sauce and vinegar).
The week after, I decided to make something my mum would cook when she's busy but need a balanced meal - omelette with vege. Her usual ingredient would be onions actually but I figured chives might be a good alternative too. Very simple dish and can be yummy with hot steaming rice.
And another week after, I tried chapjae, another Korean dish. (I'm beginning to think that Koreans love chives!) For some strange reason I found a new like with Korean food since coming to Japan. Never liked it before, perhaps the ones I had in Malaysia don't taste so good! Maybe there's many Korean restaurants, dishes and food packages that it's relatively easy to survive on Korean food.
Chapjae is a stir fried glass noodle dish with strips of beef, carrot and mushrooms. Cooked this with sesame oil and garlic, another 2 essential ingredients in Korean dishes.
Quite happy with my chinese chives experiment, though it took me a whole month to finish a bunch of it. The dishes above were all first attempts. I think I'll attempt chives again... probably next year!