Kuchai / Kuchay / Kutsai is a native of China and Japan. It is cultivated in Manila and its environs by the Chinese. Its introduction in the Philippines is uncertain; but must have been in early times.
It is internationally known as Allum tuberosum.The same family of onion and garlic. Also known as garlic chives, Chinese chives, Oriental garlic and Chinese leek. The sound of Oriental garlic seems attractive to marketing perspective. I am curious if it is able to produce bulb also. Mom is nurturing some in her garden. She said, it can be grown easily from seeds but not sure if it can produce underground bulbs. It did a slight inspection and did not see any sign of it. Pulling it out is much better and more thorough but I was not allowed to. I think I should grow my own to feed up my curiosity.
Kuchai is ranked-scented, green, growing from 20 to 40 centimeters high. The bulbs are small, white and clustered. The leaves are green, grasslike, very narrowly linear, flattish, 15 to 30 centimeters long, and 3 to 6 millimeters wide. The umbel has many or few white flowers. The perianth is bell-shaped. The fruits are on pedicels of 2 to 3 centimeters in length, obovoid, 3 –lobed, 5 to 7 millimeters in diameter. The seeds are black, depressed, globose or reniform, 2.5 to 3 millimeters in diameter. The plant seldom flowers in the Philippines.
According to wiki, immature leaves and stalks and buds could be used the same as chives, scallions or garlice. For stir frying, dumpling, spice and various flavoring purposes. Kuchay dumplings seems popular around here.
Both leaves and young scapes are used to flavor vegetables, meat, and seafoods. It can also be eaten raw, blanched or sauteed. Its medical uses include treatment of wounds, stomach ache, tumors, intestinal disorders, and scabies.
Externally, the fresh leaves and bulbs are used as an antiseptic and vulnerary. The leaves when taken internally, according to Stuart, act as a cordial. Mensut reports that the whole plant is used in Indo-China as a diuretic.
Mom added that it can be used to relieve swollen body parts (bukol at namamagang laman). The leaves are crushed and massaged to affected areas. The plant has pungent smell and she never sure if it can be used for cooking. I did investigate and it was not as bad as I thought.
Somebody is selling kuchay pie at Ayodito.ph. I am not sure the mode of delivery though as I see it is not well packed. It’s look is closer to empanada rather than what the seller described.
Kintsay sounds the same and might confused anyone. English leek is also of different species.
Here is kintsay. Also known as parsley. Courtesy of various webs. Taken from Google images.
Here is the English leek. Courtesy of various webs. Taken from Google images.
ALLIUM ODORUM Linn. KUCHAI
Allium porrum Merr. non Linn.
Allium tuberosum Roxb.
Allium angulosum Lour. non Linn.
Allium tricoccum Blanco non Ait.
Local names: Kuchai (Tag.); ganda (Bis.); pererro (Sp.); kieu-tsai, kutsai (Chinese).
Last edited on November 28, 2014