Chinese chives, also called garlic chives or gui-chai in Thai, bear a strong resemblance to spring onions. They grow in dark green stalks from white bulbs. But where the stalks of spring onions and regular chives are round and hollow, the blades of garlic chives are flat. Chinese chives have more of the taste of garlic to them than spring onions. Spring onions can be substituted for garlic chives, but only as a last resort.
Chinese chives came into use in Chinese cooking around 1000 B.C. during the Chou dynasty. Even today, for the people of Huizhou in China’s Guangdong province, garlic chives hold an important place. On the day of lixia, which marks the beginning of summer and the time to sow their fields, the people will eat a breakfast of rice, fried eggs and Chinese chives. To them, the Chinese word for chives sounds the same as the word for ’ever-lasting’, so the meal symbolizes permanent happiness.