Garlic chives (kucai) appear in many dumpling recipes. They are much more fragrant, some might say odorous, than regular chives although their flavor is not overpowering. They are particularly nice when cooked with shrimp. In this recipe from Andrea Nguyen's Asian Tofu, they are paired with tofu. Nguyen's recipe actually calls for the use of seasoned pressed tofu, but I used some fresh tofu from a local tofu maker after first draining the tofu in a colander under weight and then wrapping the tofu in cheesecloth and wringing out every bit of moisture that I could.
These are substantial, much larger than potstickers. They are about the size of empanadas. The dough is easy to make and work with, and it produces a chewy crust. Although best served warm (and what fried food isn't?), they are not bad at room temperature.
I am not someone who eats tofu as penitence. While I would never choose to eat a tofu, lettuce and tomato sandwich instead of a BLT, I certainly might opt for tahu lontong or tahu telor rather than a BLT.
Tofu and Garlic Chive Turnovers
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup warm water
4 tsp vegetable oil
1 small bundle (they come eight to a package) cellophane noodles, soaked in hot water to soften, drained and chopped
2 blocks of fresh tofu, drained, squeezed in cheesecloth to drain all the moisture you can from it--or 4 to 5 ounces baked pressed tofu, finely chopped (about one cup)
1 1/2 cups garlic chives, chopped
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1 TBS cornstarch
1 TBS sesame oil
1 large egg
vegetable oil for panfrying
In a large bowl or food processor, mix together the flour and salt. Combine the water and oil and add to the flour mixture. Process in the food processor until the dough forms a ball and continue for another 30 seconds or so. If mixing by hand, stir in the liquid until the dough comes together. You should have a fairly soft, supple dough.
Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, maybe about ten minutes if doing the entire process by hand, less time if starting with the food processor. Once the dough is smooth, wrap well with plastic and let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.
While the dough is resting, make the filling. In a medium-sized bowl mix together the noodles, tofu, and garlic chives. Mix together the salt, pepper, sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir in the egg and sesame oil into the seasoning mixture and mix well. Pour this into the tofu mixture and stir until well combined.
Make the turnovers in 2 batches. Cut the rested dough in half. Wrap the half you are not using in plastic. Cut the half you are using into 4 equal size pieces about the size of golf balls. Flatten each ball into a 3-inch wide disk. Dust both sides of each disk with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll the disks out to approximately 6 1/2-inch diameters.
Place approximately 1/4-cup of filling just off center of a rolled out piece of dough. Bring over half of the circle and press to seal. Lightly wetting the bottom edge of the circle helps ensure a secure seal. Make sure the filling is distributed evenly within the closed turnover.
Dust the bottom of each filled turnover with flour and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover the filled turnovers with a dishtowel while rolling out and filling the others.
When all have been rolled and filled, heat about 1/4 cup of oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium to medium-high heat.
When the oil is shimmering, panfry the turnovers for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, frying 2 to 3 turnovers at a time. Fry until they are brown and crispy on both sides. Nguyen suggests using tongs to hold the turnovers upright and brown the spines.