Garlic Chive Pockets / Chinese Leek Boxes

This is for you, Jen Fung!

My grandma tells me to eat napa cabbage in the winter, and garlic chives, or jiu cai, in the summer. This applies largely to dumplings, because two of the most common fillings are some variation on pork and napa or pork and garlic chives.

Tim and I were in Chinatown getting groceries and these chives were so fat and plump! I knew they would be good. They call them garlic chives because they smell and taste so strongly of garlic that one would think there is garlic in the dish as well.

Today, I will teach you how to make jiu cai he zi ( 韭菜盒子), or literally, Garlic Chive Boxes. Chive pockets, for some reason, sounds more right to me. Maybe because of its association with hot pockets? Anyway, I toiled long and hard on this recipe…I made the dough 5 times before I was happy with it! I have lots of experiences with cold water dough, but the hot water dough was a new technique for me to learn.

These goodies are made with hot water dough, which also can be used to make scallion pancakes, potstickers, 小龍包 (xiaolongbao), or soup dumplings, and many other goodies.

I would eat jiucaihezi a bowl of xi fan or soup for dinner, or just as is for lunch or breakfast 🙂 Enjoy!

I found my pictures! Yay! If you have the patience for it, you can follow along in the linked video to learn how to roll out the dough. Even if you can’t understand her, the visuals definitely at least helped me!

She uses a lot more water, but I’m not sure why, because her measurements gave me very goopy dough many times! Follow my water suggestions for success 🙂

jiucaiheeditGarlic Chive Pockets

makes 18-20 4” long pockets
dough adapted from Li Mei Xian (pro cook of Taiwanese food!)

For the dough:
4 cups flour
1 1/3 cup hot water
7-12 Tbsp room temperature water

For the filling:
1.5-2 oz, or 1 small bunch mung bean threads (fen si 粉丝), soaked in warm water until pliable
2 Tbsp dried shrimp skins (xia pi 虾皮), soaked in enough water to cover skins
2 eggs
8 oz garlic chives, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp white pepper powder
1.5 Tbsp sesame oil
Oil for pan frying

1) Boil water for the dough. Once the water boils, measure it out, add to the flour and start stirring with chopsticks. (I like to grab two chopsticks together and use them like a paddle)

2) Keep stirring until the dough is cool enough to touch. Start by adding 1/4 cup water to the dough, and mix a little bit. If it looks like there is more than 1 Tbsp or so of unincorporated flour, add more water, 1/2 Tbsp at a time. (When I made it in the humidness of summer, I used 1/2 cup water. A dry winter may demand more). For some reason, it’s always easier to mix water into the dough if not all of it is in one large clump, so mix slowly. If you overdo the water, add a little bit of flour at a time to offset the goopiness.

3) The resulting dough should be NOT be smooth all over like bread dough. It should have little bit of structure/stretchy feel to it, and it will stick to your hands a little and also to the bottom of the bowl. Knead for 3 minutes to get the flour with scalded gluten mixed together with the bits of flour with surviving gluten.

4) Cover and rest for 20-30 minutes. You can also put it in a lightly oiled bag, in the refrigerator, overnight.

5) Scramble the eggs with a few pinches of salt, making sure to break up the eggs as much as possible. The goal is pea-sized bits. If necessary, use a knife to chop the cooked egg.

6) Drain the water from the soaked mung bean threads and shrimp skins. Finely chop the mung bean threads.

7) Combine all the filling ingredients (mung bean threads, shrimp skins, eggs, chives, salt, white pepper powder, sesame oil) in a bowl and mix well.

8) Take the rested dough, knead gently, and, on a floured surface, roll into a log.

9) Use a pastry cutter to divide the dough into 20 portions using the technique shown in the dumpling skin post. Or, cut into smaller portions if you want to make fewer but larger hezi. Generously flour the tops and bottoms of the dough. Gently press down on the tops of each dough mound.

10) Cover the portions you are not actively working with with a slightly paper towel, or inverted bowl, to keep them from drying out.

11) Roll a ball of dough out into a rounded rectangle. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

12) Use a spoon to add a generous portion of filling onto half of the dough, leaving a roughly half inch or so border of dough.

13) Lift the other side of the dough over the filling side, and gently stretch the dough to line up the edges of the dough side that has filling. Seal the dough as closely as possible to the filling so as not to have a bunch of air in the cavity. If you want, use the edge of a plate to cut away the excess dough. Don’t trim so much that you get to the filling; you still want a small border of dough.

14) Crimp the dough: with the pouch facing you, start from the side of the pouch that is the same as your dominant hand, and make small creases along the edge of the pouch. Pinch tightly to make sure you don’t have runaway filling later on! As with all doughy dishes, keep uncooked hezi on a lightly floured surface to prevent them from sticking to your work surface.

jiu cai he zi chive boxes leek pockets

Learn how to make a perfectly crimped pocket here: Watch my my mom, Peggy, below!

15) Place a little bit of oil on a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan. You only need enough oil to barely coat the surface of the pan. Place the raw hezi on the pan. Cook on low heat until the bottom is nicely browned. Flip and cook on the other side. They are done when you tap the top and the hezi feels hollow and light.

Jiu Cai He Zi
jiu cai he zi chive boxes leek pocketsjiu cai he zi chive boxes leek pockets


-Got extra dough left over? Make scallion pancakes!
-If you want, use the dough that you trimmed from #13 to make another hezi.
-The uncooked hezi can be frozen, but you may need to add some water and cover them with a lid for a little bit, to produce steam, so the thicker crimped edges will cook thoroughly.
-Try eating this with mung bean soup to fill up your stomach with tasty liquid!


  1. Anonymous

    I was craving these and wanted to try to make my own. I used google to find a recipe and found it on your blog. They came out great! Looking forward to trying other recipes on your blog.
    From a fellow ABC in Northern California.

    • meggers616

      Hi! Thanks so much for your feedback; I'm glad the recipe was helpful! Your comment is an encouragement for me to keep posting recipes, and I do hope you try some other ones in the future as well. Yay for ABCs! 🙂

  2. DJ

    Thanks for this, just what I was looking for.

    • Megan

      Great! You are very welcome. Hope you enjoyed it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This