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Jul 2, 2011 09:30 PM

garlic stems/flowers in sgv?

anyone seen garlic stems (aka flowers or scapes) at any market in sgv?
i've been to various markets and i can't find them anymore.

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  1. Are you looking for actual green garlic / garlic stems (i.e., from the garlic plant), or are you looking for garlic chives (jiucai / goychoy / Chinese leek). Several types of the latter are commonly available (including one type with a closed flower at the top, which looks a little like a garlic scape), but I don't think actual garlic scapes are as commonly available. Also, even though garlic can grow year-round, you tend to see garlic scapes mostly in spring, so it's possible that you're not seeing them because they're not in season right now.

    1. I'd been looking for actual garlic stems recently, so revisiting this thread. I'm not sure if it's a seasonal thing or if I just hadn't really been trying that hard to get them before, but I found some at the Ranch 99 in Focus Plaza last night. The English name given is Taiwan Leek, but the Chinese name indicates that it's actually garlic shoots - 蒜苗 (suànmiáo). They're not with the other aromatics or with the regular leeks or the garlic chives, but kind of mixed up with some of the leafy greens, so took me a little to find them. Great flavor and texture. There, anyway, they're folded in half, and packaged in plastic, so they're easy to overlook.

      Maybe because of the time of year, these were fairly mature, with a partially developed bulb on the bottom. I didn't note if they were grown in the US or overseas.

      4 Replies
      1. re: will47

        thanks will47 for taking the time to look up this post and reply. i'm not too sure about what you got, but i think i may have to lean towards the market translation. i looked it up on google and the chinese characters came up for leek. it does kinda look like a leek type veg.

        garlic stems look more like this-
        they are seasonal. they only grow when garlic decides to flower which is spring-summer time i think.

        1. re: catbert

          I don't know if there's really a proper English name, but regardless, it is '蒜苗' according to the sign, which I am pretty sure should be garlic shoot and not a type of leek. I know I didn't take close-up pictures, but the the bulb at the bottom has already developed into a small head of garlic -- the individual cloves are already forming on most of them.

          There might be some confusion with online images because ‘青蒜苗’ is one possible way to refer to Western style leeks, which I think would more commonly be called jiucong ('韭葱'). It could have to do with the stage of development - as with other plants in that family, there is only a flower at certain stages of development. This does appear to be a hardneck variety of garlic (based on the purple stripes), which would put it in the same general class as the type of garlic that garlic scapes come from:

          I had always thought of garlic being a spring thing also, but Wikipedia says it can grow year round in mild climates (in cold climates, they're apparently planted in the fall and harvested in the late spring).

          In any event, I'm pretty confident that this is the thing which leek is commonly used to replace in dishes like mapo doufu or huiguo rou.

          1. re: will47

            heheee... this is becoming interesting. we really need a produce buff and chinese linguist to step in.

            yeah, it's hard to tell (for me) but it does kinda look like a taiwan leek-

            either way, i'd eat it.

            1. re: catbert

              There are a lot of (sometimes conflicting) regional differences in food terms in the Chinese diaspora too, which partially accounts for this.

              I asked my in-laws (from Shanghai and Guangzhou) about it yesterday; based on the picture, they said that they call this (a garlic bulb with the stem attached) dà suàn (大蒜); I'd always understood dà suàn as just being the full name for garlic, but they said that dried bulbs of garlic are called suàn tóu (蒜头; lit. garlic head). They said that Taiwanese refer to this as suàn miáo, but for them, suàn miáo is the smaller green garlic with the flower-bud; what would be called garlic scapes in English. I'm not sure what the terminology is in other parts of Mainland China.

      2. Here's a picture, in case it's helpful.

        1. Garlic stems (from Mexico) are now at 99 Ranch in Focus Plaza (not sure where else has them). Didn't look too carefully, but, I think they're also labeled as 'suan miao', same as the different style ones we were getting in the winter.

          蒜薹 suàn tái is another word for them.