Garlic stems look like a cross between snake beans (also known as long beans) and Chinese chives, but taste like neither. What are they? Long (30cm-45cm) stems harvested from garlic plants. Like snake beans, garlic stems are solid (those of chives are hollow). As to be expected, the fragrance and flavour are strong, although not as pungent as garlic cloves. What to look for: buy sprouts that are darker green for most of the length because the light green and yellow ends are tough and need to be trimmed. Smell them to ensure they have a strong garlic fragrance. When are they in season? They're not the easiest vegetable to find but they're available intermittently throughout the year. What else? Garlic stems are sometimes labelled as garlic sprouts. How to use: the flavour is overwhelmingly garlicky when raw or undercooked, but the flavour mellows and becomes sweet with longer cooking. The simplest way to prepare them is to heat some oil in a wok, add the garlic stems (cut into 4cm lengths) and stir to coat with the oil. Add some water, a little salt, ground white pepper and soy or fish sauce, then lower the heat, cover the pan with the lid and simmer until the garlic stems are tender. For a slightly more elaborate dish, marinate thinly sliced fatty pork with soy sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, sesame oil and a little salt, sugar and white pepper. Heat oil in a wok and stir-fry the pork until it loses its pink colour, then remove to a dish. Heat more oil in the wok, add the sliced garlic stems and some water or chicken broth and simmer until the vegetable is almost tender. Return the pork to the pan and allow the ingredients to simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavours. Drizzle with sesame oil and serve immediately. Garlic stems are popular in Korea, where they're often made into banchan (side dishes). Cut the garlic stems to about 4cm long. Boil a pot of salted water and cook the stems until just tender. Drain the vegetable then shock in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again and dry the stems with a clean dish towel. Toss with Korean red pepper paste or red pepper flakes, sugar, sesame oil, spring onion (also cut into 4cm lengths) and sesame seeds. Marinate for at least an hour before serving.