Nira 韮 or garlic chives are not popular in the U.S. and I rarely see them in our grocery stores. We have been growing garlic chives for many years in our herb garden but I keep forgetting to cut them back and they tend to become very tough. The secret is to keep harvesting them to encourage the growth of tender young shoots. The tender shoots are a very different animal (vegetable?) from the tough woody leaves they turn into if left alone. This year, garlic chives were the first plants pushing out new leaves in our herb garden. I quickly harvested some and made this Japanese classic of garlic chive egg drop soup.
The base of this soup is clear soup seasoned with light colored soy sauce or usukuchi shouyu 薄口醤油. I served this as the first dish on our first day of hanami 花見 with sake. You may think soup may not go with sake but it does.
As you can see below, just a little bit of green shoots were coming out, I harvested selectively from each plant so that I would not kill it. I washed and cut the leaves into one inch lengths.
The broth was made from a “Bonito and Kelp” dashi pack. I added sake, mirin and light colored soy sauce. I put the garlic chives in the simmering soup and cooked it for 1-2 minutes and added blocks of silken tofu. After one more minute, I put in a beaten egg and gently mixed and cut the heat.
My wife was quite impressed with the distinctive flavor of garlic chive and how tender it was. The egg is a perfect match. Although my wife is usually not fond of Japanese soup especially as part of a dinner, this one was a big hit.