A few days ago, I saw these garlic scapes (maneuljjong – 마늘쫑 ) in a Korean market for the first time this season. I was delighted and had to bring a couple of bunches home with me. Garlic scapes are the curly flowering shoots/stalks of garlic plants that are snipped off to allow the bulbs to grow bigger. They have a milder flavor than garlic cloves but are still quite garlicky. When cooked, the scapes become sweeter with a subtle garlic undertone and have a texture similar to that of thin asparagus. In Korea, garlic scapes are commonly used as a vegetable for side dishes. I pickled some of them in a soy brine, and ground a handful of them into a paste, which I added to grated potatoes to make potato pancakes. For this recipe, I stir fried the remaining scapes with walnuts in a soy sauce-based sauce. It’s a simple and delicious spring side dish! If you haven’t cooked with garlic scapes, make that a goal this spring. You’re missing out on a wonderful vegetable! The scapes only appear in markets for a short period time, so grab them while you can.
10 ounces garlic scapes (maneuljjong)
1/2 cup shelled walnuts, broken into quarters
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sugar (or brown sugar)
1 to 2 teaspoons corn syrup (or more sugar)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
Rinse and cut the garlic scapes into 2-inch lengths. Mix all the sauce ingredients well together, except the sesame oil and seeds.
In a heated pan over medium low heat, roast the walnuts for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the pan.
Add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to the pan, and increase the heat to medium high. Sauté the scapes for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Reduce the heat to medium low. Return the walnuts to the pan, and pour the sauce into the pan. Cook until the garlic scapes are tender and the sauce is almost gone, 3 to 4 minutes. Finish with the sesame oil and sesame seeds.