Yellow chives grow in clumps of slender, elongated leaves averaging 15 to 20 centimeters in length and have a cylindrical appearance ending in a curved tip. The leaves are thin, delicate, and flat; notably solid and not hollow. Yellow chives are wider than common garden chives and showcase pale shades of yellow and white, the coloring dependent on the growing conditions. Each leaf has a crisp, succulent, and tender consistency and is easily damaged as they are fragile in nature. Yellow chives are known for their robust, garlic-like aroma and have a clean, vegetal flavor mixed with mildly sweet nuances of garlic and onions.
Yellow chives are a good source of vitamins A and C to strengthen the immune system, boost collagen production, and reduce inflammation. The chives are also a source of calcium to protect bones and teeth, fiber to regulate the digestive tract, and B vitamins to promote healthy brain functioning. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, chives, in general, are considered a warming food that increases circulation and improves energy flow.
Yellow chives, botanically classified as Allium tuberosum, are a specialty crop produced as a delicacy for culinary preparations belonging to the Amaryllidaceae family. The pale bunches of leaves are derived from Chinese chives, also known as Garlic chives, Asian chives, and Chinese leeks, a plant native to southwestern China that has been incorporated into medicinal and culinary uses for thousands of years. Yellow chives are created from Chinese chive plants that have been grown without sunlight, a process known as forcing. In China, Yellow chives are grown from green Chinese chive plants that have already sprouted green leaves, and each plant can be forced only 1 to 2 times a year. Once the plants green leaves have reached fifteen centimeters in length, they are trimmed, leaving a small base of stubby leaves that are left in darkness to regrow. As the plants are cultivated in darkness, they are nourished with liquid kelp to encourage new pale yellow and white leaves to form. These plants are void of chlorophyll, the green pigment commonly found within leaves, as forcing prevents photosynthesis from occurring. Growing Chinese chives without sunlight creates an aromatic plant with a delicate texture and milder flavor. Yellow chives are mainly used in Chinese cooking, especially in Cantonese and Shaanxi cuisine, and are known as Gau Wong, Jiu Huang, Chinese Yellow chives, Golden chives, and Albino chives. The chives are viewed as a vegetable rather than a herb and are traditionally stir-fried to create a pleasant, crunchy texture. In the modern-day, Yellow chives have expanded in popularity to other Asian cuisines, including Japanese, and have become a specialty item sold through markets worldwide.
Yellow chives are available year-round, with peak seasons in the spring and summer.