Wild garlic is finally there! Since its season is very short, I am particularly attentive to its appearance at my farmers’ market and try to include it into my meals as often as I can. Possibilities are galore, but this simple stir-fried dish is one of the easiest way to introduce wild garlic to one’s culinary repertoire. I cannot remember how many times I have prepared it, but I am always amazed at the transformation the delicately seasoned chicken undergoes thanks to a handful of green leaves. Sliced and added just before the end of the frying process, wild garlic laces the meat pieces with a subtle garlicky and unique flavour. My beloved cashew nuts create a pleasant difference of textures.
Wild garlic, also called ramsons, ramps, buckrams, bear’s garlic or bear paw garlic, grows all around Europe and in North America (ail des ours, czosnek niedźwiedzi, megyhagyma, aglio orsino…). Unlike its domesticated and well known cousin, wild garlic’s most important part are long wide fragrant leaves (see the photo above) and flowers. Wild garlic has a very distinct garlic scent and apparently a favourite of bears, who would dig out its bulbs (hence the Latin name: Allium Ursinum). While its use in the kitchen is widespread in certain countries, it is almost non-existent in the others and I must admit I discovered its existence thanks to its popularity in Switzerland, but only about two years ago.
Until now I have posted only two other recipes using wild garlic (see below), but it is a very versatile herb. The leaves are equally good raw and cooked, so have a look around your forests and markets and start experimenting with it. You can add it into salads, serve with fish, meat, stir-fries and you should definitely dry it and powder it, so that you profit a bit from wild garlic’s aroma also out of season. You might also like one of the two recipes I have posted:
TIP: Wild garlic’s long leaves (like the one in the background of the photo above) are very similar to those of the lily of the valley and mixing them up is very dangerous, since the latter are toxic. The strong smell created when the leaves are rubbed is the only way to distinguish them if one is not an experienced ramsons picker. Planting its bulbs the garden (I have learnt it was possible on the Cottage Smallholder website) or buying leaves from a trustworthy market stall are the safest options.
Preparation: about 15 minutes
Ingredients (serves one):
1 small chicken breast, skinned
1 generous handful of sliced wild garlic leaves
2 tablespoons cashew nuts
1 teaspoon sake + 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 teaspoon mirin or syrup or sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Cut the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces.
In a small bowl combine them with salt and sake. Put aside.
Warm a pan, grease it slightly and toast the cashew nuts.
Put them aside.
Slice the wild garlic leaves horizontally (you can leave the stalks or remove them, it’s up to you).
Drain the chicken breast pieces.
Add a tablespoon oil to the pan.
When it warms up, fry the chicken pieces and when they are well cooked, add the cashew nuts and the sliced leaves.
Stir-fry about 20 seconds and then add the sauce.
When it thickens, the dish is ready to be served.