Egg + Chive Boxes (韭菜盒子)

Chive boxes (韭菜盒子 Jiu Cai He Zi) are filled with egg, chive, and mung bean vermicelli. They’re another childhood favorite of mine and something that I would always look for on the menu when we went out to eat. Since they’re not always easy to find, I started to make my own, which always include dried shrimp and MSG to give it an extra oomph and umami taste.

MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) has an undeserved bad rap that stems from a 1968 letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine in which the author described feelings of weakness, palpitations and numbness in the arms after eating at a Chinese restaurant. This, unfortunately, spurred the “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” stigma, and MSG bore the brunt of the blame (you can read more about that here). Since then, negative health claims have been disproven by research, but its continued vilification is rooted in xenophobia against Chinese immigrants and restaurants that we’ve been led to believe.

It is time we change that narrative and reclaim the use of MSG, something many people already consume every day. Its main components, sodium and glutamate, are also found inherently in common foods we eat like tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and even mushrooms. And time and time again, research has shown that MSG is totally safe.

All this to say, if you haven’t already discovered the beauty of MSG, you need to asap. It adds umami, can reduce sodium intake when replacing it with salt, and, most importantly, it’s fckn tasty and comes in the cutest little bottle. While you can find Ajinomoto MSG products on Amazon and in most Asian supermarkets, MSG is also sold as Ac’cent® in major grocery stores nationwide.

Ingredients: (makes 16 boxes)

For the dough:
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp neutral (canola or veg) oil
  • ~1/2 to 3/4 cup hot (not boiling) water
For the filling: 
  • ~2-2.5 cups of chives. Tough stems removed and chopped into ~1cm 
  • 4 eggs scrambled with a pinch of salt, break into small pieces with your spatula or give it a once-over with a knife
  • 1/2 cup cooked mung bean vermicelli, cut into 1 cm pieces (I just go at it with scissors)
  • 2 tsp neutral oil 
  • 2 tbsp dried shrimp (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp MSG (such as Ac’cent)  
  • Salt to taste, ~1/2 tsp

**Feel free to adjust ratios of chives, eggs, and vermicelli based on personal preference

Directions:

Make the dough:
  • Mix flour, salt, and oil
  • Add in water slowly while continuing to stir with chopsticks until large chunks start to form
  • Knead until smooth ~5 minutes at which point the dough should be slightly tacky to touch but not sticky
  • Cover and let rest for 30 minutes 
Making the boxes:
  • Mix chives and oil together, then mix in the rest of the filling well.
  • Divide dough in half. Then, roll out each half into a log and divide into 8 pieces, yielding 16 total pieces. Add the pieces you’re not working on back into the covered bowl to keep them from drying out.
  • Roll each piece into a ball, flatten with your palm, and then roll out into a 4.5-5 inch round. Take the rolling pin over the edges so that you don’t have real thick edges.
  • Spoon a heap of filling into the center, fold the dough in half so you half a semi-circle, and seal the edges closed with your fingers.
  • Then use your thumb to pinch small pleats into the dough.
  • Alternatively, follow a simpler folding technique that I used for my beef meat pies.
To cook/freeze:
  • To cook: heat up oil over medium heat in a non-stick pan so that it covers the bottom layer of the skillet. Pan fry each side for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
  • To freeze: freeze the boxes on a tray in a single layer, not letting the boxes touch. Once they’ve solidified (~2 hours) remove them from the tray and transfer to a ziploc.

Hope you enjoy and thank you Ajinomoto for sponsoring this post.



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