This is the Winter that wasn’t. Crocuses are beginning to push their way up in Mid-February, and the Ice Melt purchased after last October’s surprise snowfall sits untouched in the front hall. One of the surest signs of Spring in the Chinatown markets is the arrival of Garlic Scapes. If you’ve never tried them you are in for a real treat.
Garlic Scapes are the curling “flower stalks” of hardneck varieties of garlic. Although the plant does not produce flowers, these stalks start to appear about a month after the first leaves. The Rocombole variety of garlic sends out brilliant green tangling twisting scapes that, if left on the plant would eventually become too tough and fibrous to eat. If cut when young and tender however, they have a delicious, sweet, mild garlic flavor that can be used in countless ways. Let your imagination be your guide.
This simple stir-fry is equally delicious served over noodles or rice.
BEEF AND GARLIC SCAPE STIR-FRY
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine, or dry sherry
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 two inch piece of ginger, peeled, sliced and minced
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
ground white pepper to taste
1 lb. top sirloin, sliced into thin strips against the grain
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 bunch garlic scapes, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 small red Thai chilies, minced
1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
Combine the soy sauce and rice wine in a mixing bowl and whisk in the cornstarch. Add the ginger, sesame oil, and white pepper to taste. Add the beef slices and stir to coat well. Let the beef marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Drain the beef and reserve the marinade. Heat two tablespoons of the peanut oil in a heated wok until almost smoking. Working in batches, add the beef and stir- fry until just pink, about two minutes. Remove to a plate.
Wipe out the wok, and heat the remaining one tablespoon peanut oil, swirling to coat the bottom of the wok. Add the garlic scapes, and chiles, and stir-fry until just tender, about three minutes. Return the beef to the wok, add the chicken stock and the reserved marinade, and bring just to a boil. Remove to a serving dish, garnish with cilantro and serve immediately over noodles or rice.
written by Jim Becker – Chinatown Guide