If we're talking about the most famous dish of Thai food, many people would think about Pad Thai. It's a dish that almost every Thai restaurant in the U.S. will put on its menu. Surprisingly enough, of all the Thai restaurants I've visited I haven't seen anyone use garlic chives which is one of the key ingredients for Pad Thai.
I understand that sometimes it's challenging to procure all authentic ingredients to assemble a dish, but garlic chives are quite easy to find at local Asian grocery stores. Green onions are normally substituted for garlic chives in the recipe. It might get by from an appearance stand point with the green color and the long leaves, however the taste is totally different.
Since many Thai restaurants use Green Onions in their Pad Thai, people misunderstood; they thought Green Onions are an authentic ingredient for the dish. Now that you know the truth, you can make authentic Pad Thai. Be careful though, don't make the mistake of buying Flowering Chives instead of Green Garlic Chives.
Garlic Chives are a plant native to China. Many Southeast Asian countries use it in their cuisine including Thailand. The plant has flat long green leaves. This is the part we use in Pad Thai, Chive dumplings, and many stir-fried dishes. Most of the stores will label them as Garlic Chives, so understand that it's the leaves of the Garlic Chive plant.
The long hollow stem in the middle of the plant is the flower stem. The confusion arises since many Asian grocery stores label them the same as Garlic Chives. That is why people bought Flowering Chives instead of Garlic Chives. Flowering Chives is actually the buds on the stem harvested before it blooms. We use in it some stir-fried dishes but not Pad Thai. The texture is more fibrous compared to the leaves.
Another type of Garlic Chive you will find is Yellow Chives. They have milder garlic taste, sweeter and more tender. They are planted under cover. Without exposure to light, they don't turn green. It's similar to the growing concept of Green Asparagus versus White Asparagus. That is why Yellow Chives are more delicate and more expensive.
I know, now you are ready to run to your local Asian grocery store to pick up some Garlic Chives to make your own Pad Thai. Share with me how it turns out, and let me know if you notice any differences.