Stir-Fry of Flowering Garlic Chives and Pork (ผักไม้กวาดผัดหมู)

Stir-fried Garlic Chives with Pork
If you have had pad thai as it’s made in Thailand, you are already aware of the unfailing presence of the main aromatic ingredient and a side garnish/crudité: the leaves and tender stalks of garlic chives. And if you regularly wander the streets of Bangkok a little further beyond pad thai stalls, chances are you have seen or tasted Chinese steamed chive dumplings or fried chive cakes wherein the leaves of Chinese chives are used.

Stir-fry of Flowering Garlic Chives with Pork
But there’s another part of garlic chives that you’ll see used in Thai food only if you a regular patron of local rice-curry shops or school cafeterias and/or live in a Thai household (or with a Thai): garlic chive buds and their tender, crunchy bud stems. The simple stir-fry of “broomsticks” (the unofficial but frequently-used term that the Thai have designated specifically to these particular parts of garlic chives) and meat is hardly ever served in a restaurant — the kind where you’re handed a menu upon being seated; this is a rice-curry shop staple and a dish that is firmly rooted in the Thai homes.

Stir-fry of Flowering Garlic Chives and Pork
Garlic chive bud stems can be found easily anywhere in Thailand; they are inexpensive yet come with the kind of bold flavor that far exceeds their market value. When you cook with garlic chives, you’ll realize that you don’t need a lot of meat or seasoning ingredients in order to create a flavorful dish. As an example, when a Thai cook makes a simple vegetable (or vegetable and meat) stir-fry, he typically starts by frying minced garlic in vegetable oil until the garlic becomes fragrant which is when the meat is added, followed by the vegetable(s). This is more or less the standard procedure which most people, including me, adhere to. In the case of garlic chives, however, that initial frying of garlic is not necessary at all to me. This doesn’t mean that it is not done by others or that it shouldn’t be done; I personally find that step superfluous in this case, because garlic chives hardly need that extra help, thank you very much.

Stir-Fry of Flowering Garlic Chives and Pork (ผักไม้กวาดผัดหมู)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 2-3
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 ounces a quick-cooking cut of any meat you like (boneless chicken breasts, boneless chicken thighs, pork loin or boneless country ribs, pork tenderloin, peeled and deveined shrimp, chuck steak, prepared squid, or -- this is extremely common in Thailand -- pork liver), sliced thinly into bite-sized pieces (no need to slice shrimp)
  • 1 pound flowering garlic chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (add only ½ tablespoon first and add the remainder later if it's not salty enough -- but remember that this is to be served with bland rice)
  • ½ teaspoon granulate sugar (optional but recommended)
  • ½ teaspoon ground white or black pepper
  1. Set a wok or a 14-inch skillet on medium-high heat. When the wok is hot add the oil.
  2. Add the meat and light soy sauce; stir-fry until the meat is cooked, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Crank up the heat to high; add the garlic chives and the fish sauce; stir-fry until the vegetable is tender but still bright green and crunchy, no more than a minute.
  4. Don't let the dish cool in the wok; plate it immediately to prevent the residual heat from cooking the chives beyond the tender-crisp point. Serve with rice.


15 Responses to Stir-Fry of Flowering Garlic Chives and Pork (ผักไม้กวาดผัดหมู)

  1. Amber August 21, 2013 at 2:15 pm #


  2. Xinfully August 21, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    I adore these “broomsticks” too, especially when stir-fried with pork liver. Do you have a preferred meat for this dish?

    • Leela August 21, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

      Xinfully – Pork liver, actually.

  3. Sue August 21, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    I am making this tonight! It looks so good.

  4. Craig August 22, 2013 at 1:05 am #

    I have to admit I have not eaten as much vegetable rich dishes since I have been here, and I don’t think I have noticed the garlic “chives” in Thai cooking. The only time I have seen them is in foreign oriented grocery stores and they were imported from Japan (I believe). I use to have a room-mate that cooked them for me when I was in Canada which is where I recognize them. They definitely make a good stir-fry and this looks like a very simple recipe so I think I will try it soon (I know I need to add more veggies to my diet). Looks good, but I think I will try it with crispy pork belly…..

  5. Grace August 22, 2013 at 7:31 am #

    We always removed the flower buds before cooking garlic chives. All those years of wasted labor! Pork liver sounds great, too.


  6. Pam August 22, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    I have a beautiful garlic chive plant in the garden perfectly ready for this dish, and so it will be our dinner tonight! Thank you!

  7. Pey-Lih August 22, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Those garlic chives look mouthwatering!

  8. Ken G August 22, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    A warning. Garlic chives are easy to grow – too easy. They spread aggressively.

  9. Craig August 22, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Maybe I am getting confused but as far as I know most Pad Thais (that I have had) are made with Chinese Chives – not Garlic “chives”. I have several recipes (one from Thai House — my favourite Phad Thai, one from SITCA (Koh Samui)) and neither place made reference to Garlic Chives (just Thai Garlic).

    • Craig August 22, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

      Maybe I am getting different plants mixed up and it is just terminology. There is garlic (long green plants) that comes from Japan and maybe China but it differs from what I know as Chinese chives.

    • Leela August 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

      Craig – Yeah, the chive terminology can be confusing. What’s in view here is Allium tuberosum. The flat, soft leaves are used in pad thai (not shown here but alluded to); the flowers and the round and crunchy flower stems are used in this stir-fried.

      • Craig August 25, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

        OK, that narrows it down – that would be what I know as “Chinese Chives”….. Of course since Toronto has more Chinese than any other asian ethnicity…. and the taste is close to “American” chives that we use to have growing in our gardens….. it does not surprise me that they would be known as Chinese Chives. The Japanese garlic plant (which I don’t have a name for) has a firm core and has a different taste – but works great in stir fries. Of course sometimes labelling in Toronto could be a little confusing…. most of the small Chinese grocers (but not the largest chain/store) were actually owned by Vietnamese…. and all the “Thai” herbs would all have the same label “Vietnamese Herbs” with a price 😮

  10. Neung August 22, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    I really like the dish. I also like stir-fried spring onion with carrot.


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