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Garlic chive flower sauce
Place of originChina
Region or stateShaanxi Province
Main ingredientsGarlic chive flower

Garlic chive flower sauce (Chinese: 韭花酱) is a condiment made by fermenting flowers of the Allium tuberosum. The condiment is used in Chinese cuisine (espically Northwest Chinese cuisine) as a dip for its fragrant, savoury, and salty attributes. The Chinese use this flower in ways similar how the Europeans did, namely by savouring the flower's aroma and mild garlic flavor.[1][2]


The condiment originated in China, where the plant is first cultivated for culinary purposes in the Zhou Dynasty.[3] Written records for the usage of this condiment as dipping sauce for mutton exists from the Qing period, but the use of the flower of garlic chives for similar purposes have a longer history, dating back to the 8th or 9th century AD.

Jinuhua Tie
Jinuhua Tie

In the Jiuhua Tie, the fifth most important piece of Chinese calligraphy in Semi-cursive script, Yang Ningshi [zh] (873-954)[4][5] recorded garlic chive flower's use to enhance flavors of mutton: "At the start of autumn, the chive flowers begin to become flavorful and can be used to enhance lamb flavors. This is a true delicacy that, apart from satiating hunger, gave a memorable experience."


— 杨凝式, 韭花帖

The comtemptorary Chinese writer Wang Zengqi described the custom of making garlic chives flower sauce, which he commentated highly upon, in northern Chinese households and indicated that the oringin of the sauce is in Northwest China. Hw also analyzed the aforementioned calligraphy piece in the perspective of a fellow writer and epicure. Presented below is a excerpt from an essay in the book discussing usage of the said flower, undergone a crude translation by myself:[6][7]

It is the first time, and perhaps the only time, that garlic chive flowers made its presence in calligraphy. This piece, named after the flower, have characters intact and is as comprehensible as contemporary language, invoking a sense of familiarity. Though not encyclopedically knownledgable, I have never seen the flower appear in literature, which is unfair for a delicacy so prevalent yet flavorful.


Record is not given on how the garlic chives flowers are processed. But it appears that it is accompanied by mutton. [The piece mentioned the sentence] "助其肥羜", in which "羜" is five-month-old lamb, which is not necessarily what Yang had actually eaten, but more likely a allusion from the "既有肥羜" verse in Lumbering, Xiao Ya, Shi Jing. Beijingers cannot part from garlic chive flower sauce when eating instant-cooked mutton. a tradition [I] previously thought to have originated from Mongol or Western minorities, but it appears that it is already existent during the Wudai period. Yang Ningshi lived in Shaanxi, and serving garlic chive flowers alongside mutton is a tradition that started near there also.

Garlic chive flowers in Beijing are grinded and pickled when eaten and somewhat juicy in texture. It is good both as dipping for mutton and as pickle alone.

— Wang Zengqi, 文人与食事:多年父子成兄弟, Chive Flowers


Garlic chive flowers
Garlic chive flowers

The condiment is made by fermenting grounded flowers of garlic chives in salt, sesame oil, and spices including Sichuan pepper, ginger, and garlic. After it is made, it can be stored for up to a year.[8] Different regions may vary in preference on production methods and the inclusion/exclusion of certain spices, but pickling a combination of predominant chive flowers and supplementary spices is common.[9][10]

Culinary Uses

The condiment can be used as a dipping sauce for boiled mutton,[6] and can also be a composite material for the dipping sauce of Chinese hot pot. It is used in small quantities and usually mixed with sesame paste or rice vinegar, among many others, to avoid an overwhelmingly salty taste. [11][12]


  1. ^ "Don't Toss Those Purple Flowers: Chive Blossoms Add Flavor to Dishes". The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 2022-08-24.
  2. ^ "Garlic Chives, Allium tuberosum". Wisconsin Horticulture. Retrieved 2022-08-24.
  3. ^ "Delicious Recipes Using Garlic Chives". The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 2022-08-24.
  4. ^ "杨凝式 行书韭花帖 无锡博物馆藏". Chinese Calligraphy (12): 72–79. 2016.
  5. ^ Yu, Chen (June 28, 2003). "春畦雨后滋蔬甲 五代风流映韭花——谈传世的三本《韭花帖》". 上海文博论丛 (2): 53–55 – via National Digital Library of China.
  6. ^ a b Wang, Zengqi; 汪曾祺 (2016). Wen ren yu shi shi : duo nian fu zi cheng xiong di. Lang Wang, 汪朗 (Di 1 ban ed.). Shanghai Shi. ISBN 978-7-5426-5666-7. OCLC 987303957.
  7. ^ 汪曾祺 (2013). Zuo fan. Wang zeng qi, 汪曾祺. Nan jing: Jiang su wen yi chu ban she. ISBN 978-7-5399-6376-1. OCLC 910465709.
  8. ^ "韭菜花酱的做法_韭菜花酱怎么做_菜谱_美食天下". Meishi China. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  9. ^ "Leek Flower Sauce Recipe - Simple Chinese Food". Simple Chinese Food. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  10. ^ De, Mu (June 30, 1987). "Production of Garlic Chive Flower Sauce". New Agriculture (Z1).
  11. ^ "韭菜的花能吃? 專家親授「韭花醬」營養更加分". (in Chinese). Retrieved 2022-08-24.
  12. ^ Cai, Kehua (May 1, 1991). "韭菜花的加工腌制". Changjiang Vegetables (2).