Just What Are Garlic Scapes Anyway?

To be honest, before last week, I’d never heard of them before. Suddenly, now they’re at every farmer’s market stand, bloggers are putting them to creative use and I’m left standing on the sidelines wondering what they even are. Apparently, I’m not the only one as the newsletter from the farmer’s market has a section on these strange little guys.

Garlic scapes appear to be a rising trend hitting the foodie scene. In botanical terms, a scape is a leafless, flowering stem. Garlic scapes are ordinarily removed to focus the plant’s growth on the garlic bulb rather than flowering. Similar in flavor to green onions crossed with garlic, garlic scapes should be eaten when young and tender and are best sauteed or stir-fried.

A scape can be very curly and can grow up to a foot in length. Since these can be quite hard, they require a few extra minutes of cooking to “soften them up”.

Garlic plus green onion certainly sounds like a winning combination to me. I decided to try these out and have a go at one of my favorite Chinese restaurant dishes: green onion beef. I know garlic beef is good and green onion beef is good, why not garlic scape beef?

As it turns out, it’s pretty damn good. Both my husband and I adored them. I especially loved the flower section, it was soft, tender and very tasty. I wish scapes were in season longer than a few weeks as I would love to have them again this summer. By the time I’m able to go to the market again, they’re almost sure to be gone.

Garlic Scapes & Onion Beef [printable recipe]

Serves 2 over rice.

  • 1/2 lb garlic scapes, chopped into 2″ lengths
  • 3/4 lb thinly sliced flank steak, round steak, or other beef for stir-fry
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red chili pepper
  • dash of ginger

Combine soy sauce, oyster sauce, pepper, 2 cloves’ worth of minced garlic, and ginger in a small bowl and add sliced beef. Stir well and let marinate for at least 30 minutes, overnight if possible.

In an oiled saute pan or wok set over medium to medium-high heat, saute onion until the edges turn brown and soften. Add remaining garlic, saute a minute more and remove all to a bowl. Add garlic scapes plus 1/4 cup of water, cover. Let steam for 2 – 3 minutes. Saute until tender, about 2 minutes more. Remove to the bowl with onion and garlic.

Add half a tablespoon oil to the pan and add beef, along with any remaining marinade. Cook well, stirring often, until beef is nicely done. Add in scapes, onion and garlic, cook for another minute before taking the pan off the heat.

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