These vegan Chinese Chive Pockets (韭菜盒子, Jiǔ cài hé zi) are delicious, and light which is perfect as a quick snack or served as a meal by itself. The recipe is easy and I’ve shared other filling variations so that you can turn this simple meal into your favorite snacks in no time.
Have you tried Chinese Chive Pockets before? It’s a larger sized dumpling often filled with a few ingredients such as fresh chopped Chinese chives (韭菜), mung bean thread noodles (粉丝), and protein of choice.
The pastry is made from just flour and water. Once filled, these pockets are then pan-fried with or without oil over very low heat until fully cooked through.
Chinese chive or Jiu Cai ‘韭菜’ has a flatter, larger leaf compared to a regular chive. They come in either green or yellow, though the latter has a more mellow taste.
If you see Chinese chives at your store, grab some and make this easy recipe below. These pockets are so addictive and I can easily gobble up a few in one sitting. This recipe is inspired by Pei Jen Mama.
How to make Vegan Chinese Chive Pockets
1. Prepare the dough
Mix flour and salt in a large bowl until well-combined. Then, add the water and mix until you get a shaggy dough without traces of dried flour in the bowl. Knead into a smooth dough, then cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
2. Prepare the filling
Soak the mung bean thread noodles in hot water for about 10 to 15 minutes, then drain out the water. The texture should be soft in a way that you can cut them easily with a knife. If not, place them back in the bowl and soak them again with room temperature water.
Remove any wilted or browned chives, then, clean them with water, and pat them dry with a towel. I like to group my chives into a bunch and chop them with a sharp knife to about 0.5 to 1cm in length. Try to chop them in even sizes if possible.
In a preheated non-stick pan, mash tofu into crumbles. Then, pan fry over low heat with a drizzle of oil until golden brown. Season with salt.
Place the above 3 ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine, then season with toasted sesame oil, salt, white pepper, and soy sauce.
3. Assemble the pockets
Chive pockets are easier to make compared to dumplings if you ask me. As long as you seal the ends together and make sure nothing is falling out, then you are good to go. A common shape would be a normal or pleated half-moon.
So, to assemble these pockets, transfer the dough onto a cleaned floured surface and divide it into 12 equal portions. Work with one dough at a time and cover the rest with a towel.
Take a dough and roll it out into a thin circular shape, about 1mm thick.
Place the filling ingredients towards the top of the wrapper (I used about 2-3 tablespoons) and bring the other end to seal by pressing together lightly.
4. How to cook the pockets
I tried both with and without oil when cooking these pockets and each method yields amazing results. The former method creates a more puffy pocket while the latter brings out the flavor during cooking. I used minimal oil while pan-frying these pockets because the wrapper is quite thin.
Cover with a cloth to create a chewy pocket
Vegan Chinese Chive Pockets filling and variations
Chinese Chives – is the main ingredient for these pockets and the best season for chives is around Spring. Other options include chopped green onions or sautéed leek.
Mung bean thread noodles – has a springy texture and goes well with the chives. If this is not available, then softened rice vermicelli is a great alternative.
Sautéed tofu crumbles – these tofu crumbles once sautéed with a drizzle of oil and seasoned is one of my favorite pairing that I love to use. It adds another chewy texture to the filling and can also be subbed with other protein of your choices such as sautéed vegan eggs, sautéed chickpeas, or crispy tiny potato cubes.
1. The recipe results in a very soft dough, so start with the least amount of water needed and add more flour if needed.
2. Cooking method- these pockets can be pan-toasted without or with minimal oil in a frying pan. To fully cook through the pockets, low heat is the key.
3. I found that the pockets are fluffier when they are toasted without oil but they appear to be drier if not consumed right away. On the other hand, a little oil added during pan-frying brought out more flavors and stayed soft and chewy for a longer period of time.
4. I covered the cooked pockets with a towel to allow the moisture to be trapped inside which in turn created a chewy outer layer.
These vegan Chinese Chive Pockets are
- Easy to make with a no yeast dough
- Best served with some homemade chili oil
- Chewy on the outside with a delicious aromatic filling
- Easily customizable with a variety of filling ingredients
- Perfect for make-ahead meals (just reheat in a toaster oven after you refrigerate)
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Chinese Chives Pockets ‘韭菜盒子’
- 300 g all purpose flour
- 175-180 g water, room temperature start with 175g
- a pinch of salt
- ½ lb [~250g] Chinese chives
- 7 oz [200g] firm tofu
- 50 g [1.7oz] bundle mung bean thread
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust to your preference
- 1 teaspoon organic sugar
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- To make the dough, place flour and salt in a large bowl and mix until well-combined.
- Gradually pour in the water and stir to combine. Then, knead into a soft dough, for about 8 – 10 minutes. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Soak the mung bean thread noodles in hot water for 10 minutes to soften it. Drain and cut or chop into smaller pieces.
- Clean chives by removing the browned part and rinse with water. Then, chop into 1cm length and transfer to a large bowl.
- Mash tofu in a non-stick pan into crumbles, add a drizzle of oil, then sauté them until golden brown and season with salt.
- Add cooked tofu, mung bean thread noodles into the chopped chives bowl. Then season with soy sauce, sugar, salt, a few dashes of white pepper and toasted sesame oil. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
- To make the pockets, dust countertop with flour and divide dough into 12 equal parts.
- Take one dough ball and flatten it with your palm (cover the rest with a towel). Roll the dough into a circular disc.
- Place about 2 – 3 tablespoons of filling in the middle and bring the edge from one side to meet the other end and pinch seal to make a half moon shape.
- To cook the pockets, heat a non-stick/cast iron pan with a drizzle of oil.
- Pan-fry pockets until golden brown, for about 3 to 5 minutes, then flip and cover the pan with a lid. Continue to cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.
- Remove and place pockets on a baking sheet pan and cover with a towel. This step is to give the pockets the chewy outer layer. Serve warm with sambal oelek.
- Use softened thin rice vermicelli (bihun) to sub the mung bean thread noodles.