This Spring, Enjoy In-Season Nira Garlic Chives, a Stamina-Boosting Green Rich in Nutrients

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nira garlic chives wrapped in pork, front, and garlic chives and minced pork on rice

Nira garlic chives are popular as a stamina-boosting vegetable and though available year-round, they are in season in spring.

Reiko Fukushima, a professional vegetable sommelier, showed us how to cook dishes with nira during the season when their leaves are tender and have a pleasant aroma.

Nira chives contain a substance called allyl sulfide, which is the source of their distinctive aroma. When consumed and combined with vitamin B1, it helps relieve fatigue and stimulate the body’s metabolism. The greens are also rich in nutrients such as beta-carotene.

“It’s a versatile ingredient that tastes good when stir-fried or simmered,” said Fukushima, who also teaches cooking classes. “When buying chives at a store, choose those with thick, fresh leaves.”

First, she showed us how to cook nira wrapped in buta bara niku (meat from pork back ribs).

When placing the meat on the pan, place the end of the roll face down to prevent it from losing its shape during grilling. Steaming the meat will cook the nira inside, reducing its pungency while retaining the aroma.

The combination of garlic chives and meat also goes well with white rice. Rice with garlic chives and minced meat is a versatile dish that provides meat, vegetables and carbohydrates in a single bowl.

When the nira turns soft, it is a sign of being cooked through. The subtle flavor of the chives and the umami flavor of the meat will whet your appetite.

Nira can be cooked easily, so it does not take long to prepare the vegetable.

“Boil a bundle of nira and add diluted mentsuyu soup stock for a vegetable side dish,” Fukushima said.

Nira is a relatively inexpensive vegetable. Fukushima recommended trying various arrangements, such as wrapping them around your favorite food.


Pork-wrapped nira

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 1/2 bundle (60g) nira garlic chive
  • 10 thinly sliced buta bara niku pork
  • lemon, as needed

  • Directions:

    1. Cut nira into 3 cm lengths and trim the pork into 15 cm lengths so that it is easy to roll. Place the chives on the pork and roll them up.

    2. If you try to use about 10 grams of chives for each roll, the rolls will not lose their shape.

    The Yomiuri Shimbun
    Be careful not to use too many garlic chives when rolling them up in pork slices.

    3. Pour oil in a frying pan as needed and heat. Place the pork-wrapped nira, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, and grill. Turn them over in the middle. When the meat is seared on all sides, cover with a lid and steam over low heat for about five minutes. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.


    Nira garlic chives and minced pork on rice

    Ingredients (Serves 2)

    • 1 bundle of nira (110g)
    • 1/2 onion (100g)
    • 100g ground pork
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
    • 300-400g warm rice

    • Directions:

      1. Cut nira into 1 cm lengths and chop an onion. Put minced pork in a frying pan and cook until brown. Add the chopped onion and cook until it turns transparent.

      2. The pork contains a lot of fat, so salad oil is not need. Cook until the meat becomes crumbly.

      3. Pour the mixture of oyster sauce and soy sauce into the pan. When the meat and onion are well seasoned, add the chives and sprinkle a pinch of salt. Finally, place on top of rice in a bowl.