Pan-Fried Chive Pockets

published Jan 13, 2023
Pan-Fried Chive Pockets Recipe

This traditional Chinese delicacy can be found both as a casual street food and also as a Lunar New Year mainstay.

Serves4 to 6

Makes16 (about 4-inch) pockets

Prep1 hour 40 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Pan fried chive pockets on baking sheet.
Credit: Photo: Murray Hall; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

The only thing more fun than having one New Year’s celebration? Having two. While I eagerly anticipate the arrival of January 1 for the festivities, the dropping disco ball, and the resolutions, I also await the arrival of Lunar New Year with bated breath and an empty stomach. I’ve never associated the Gregorian New Year with an epicurean feast, whereas the Lunar New Year is a different story altogether. 

At the center of any Lunar New Year celebration (and certainly those I grew up around) is food. This is due in large part to the symbolism associated with several key ingredients — for example, long noodles are often a central dish in order to bring about a long life. And dumplings, which resemble little coin pouches, are crucial for bringing about wealth. 

But as delicious as my family’s dumplings always were, there was another kind of edible pouch that I much prefer: the pan-fried chive pocket. This traditional Chinese delicacy can be found both as a casual street food and also as a Lunar New Year mainstay. Much like other filled dough offerings in Chinese culture, these chive pockets represent wealth and good fortune, and are consequently often brought to the table as a celebratory item. But with their savory filling, their crisp exterior, and their portability, my family brought these jiu cai he zi to meals more often than not. 

Credit: Photo: Murray Hall; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

As the name suggests, the primary filling ingredient in these little pockets of goodness is Chinese chives, which help to flavor the eggs that represent the second main ingredient. But depending on the region of China (or your family’s personal preference), shrimp, cellophane noodles, various dried mushrooms, and other vegetables can be added to the mix. Of course, if you’re going the vegetarian route, you can forego shrimp altogether. Making the dough from scratch is not necessary, but it always added to the fun of the process when I was a child. The simple combination of flour, water, and just a few basic spices makes this an easy dough to create and to work with and, when fried over low heat with just a little bit of oil, creates a wonderful crisp to contrast the soft interior. 

Whether you’re making (and eating) these chive pockets for a snack, as a side dish, or as the main event of your meal (for Lunar New Year or otherwise), they’re sure to be a hit any time of day.

Pan-Fried Chive Pockets Recipe

This traditional Chinese delicacy can be found both as a casual street food and also as a Lunar New Year mainstay.

Prep time 1 hour 40 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Makes 16 (about 4-inch) pockets

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup

    water, plus more as needed

  • 2 teaspoons

    peanut or vegetable oil, plus more for the work surface

For the filling:

  • 2 (37 to 40-gram) bundles

    dried cellophane (or vermicelli) noodles (bean thread)

  • 4

    large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons

    Shaoxing wine, dry sherry, or low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 8 ounces

    raw shrimp

  • 2 tablespoons

    peanut or vegetable oil, divided, plus more for frying

  • 8 ounces

    Chinese chives

  • 2 tablespoons

    oyster sauce

  • 2 teaspoons

    toasted sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    five-spice powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground white pepper

Instructions

Make the dough:

  1. Place 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  2. Microwave or heat 3/4 cup water until hot to the touch but not boiling (about 180ºF). While whisking constantly, slowly pour into the flour mixture.

  3. Knead the water into the flour until there is no dry flour left. If there is not enough water, add more warm water 1 tablespoon at a time until all the flour is hydrated.

  4. Add 2 teaspoons peanut or vegetable oil and knead (still in the bowl) until the oil is absorbed (it will be sticky), about 8 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the filling.

Make the filling:

  1. Place 2 bundles dried cellophane noodles in a medium bowl and add enough room temperature water to cover. Let sit at room temperature until softened, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining filling ingredients.

  2. Place 4 large eggs, 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk until combined.

  3. Peel and devein 8 ounces raw shrimp and finely chop.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut or vegetable oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp and cook just until the shrimp begin to turn pink, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the egg mixture and stir with a heatproof flexible spatula to scramble and cut the eggs into small pieces just until the eggs begin to firm up, about 2 minutes.

  5. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop 8 ounces Chinese chives (about 3 cups). Place in a large bowl, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of the peanut or vegetable oil, and toss until evenly coated.

  6. Drain the noodles and cut into 1/2-inch long pieces with kitchen shears or a knife.

  7. Add the noodles, shrimp and eggs, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon five-spice powder, and 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper to the chives and stir until evenly combined.

Assemble the pockets:

  1. The rested dough should now have a smooth surface and soft texture. Have 2 sheets of parchment paper ready.

  2. Coat a work surface lightly with oil. Using a lightly oiled bench scraper or chef’s knife, divide the dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece of dough on the work surface into a ball. Flatten each ball out into a 5-inch wide disk.

  3. Divide the filling onto the centers of the rounds (about 1/4 cup each). Press the filling down into an even layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border.

  4. Fold the disk in half to create a half moon and press out any air pockets. Press down on the edges to seal, or use a fork to press and crimp instead. Place on the parchment paper in a single layer, spacing them at least 1 1/2-inches apart. Cut the parchment around each pocket so they’re now on individual pieces of parchment.

Cook the pockets:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add 2 to 3 of the chive pockets (do not crowd the pan): Pick up with the parchment, flip into the pan parchment-side up, and remove the parchment. Fry until the bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes.

  2. Flip the pockets and fry until the second side is golden brown, about 2 minutes more. If the pan starts to smoke, reduce the heat to medium-low. Transfer to a plate. Repeat cooking the remaining pockets, adding 1 tablespoon oil to the pan before each batch.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The uncooked pockets can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Alternatively, freeze the uncooked chives pockets on the baking sheet until solid. Transfer to a zip top bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Cook from frozen, adding a splash of water to the pan when you add the chive pockets and covering the pan for the first 2 minutes. The pockets may need additional cooking time.

Storage: Refrigerate chive pockets in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat in the nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat until warmed through.