Spring is the harbinger for many good things to eat. I plant and eagerly wait for seedlings to sprout in my garden. I shop at markets to look for the new season’s crop of Asian vegetables. One of my favorite spring-time Asian vegetables is the little pea tip. Around now is when they’re just about right for farmers to harvest.
Pea tips (aka pea sprouts, snow pea shoots) are called dou miao in Mandarin. They are full of pea goodness, the embodiment of snap peas. Look for pea tips at Chinese markets in plastic bags. You’ll pay about $3 a pound as they are time consuming to individually pick by hand. Use within several days of purchase to enjoy this vegetable delicacy at its peak.
In the above photo, note the cutie tendrils. Tender tendrils are edible whereas older ones are akin to dental floss. I pluck them all off, for good measure. The occasional white pea bud is edible. Keep them, if you like, when prepping the pea tips for cooking.
The most common way to experience pea tips is in a simple, fast stir-fry (called qing chao dou miao in Mandarin). Add some rendered chicken or duck fat for richness, if you like! Or render the fat on the spot, as I ‘discovered’ the other night. For this stir-fried pea tips recipe, I used the duck fat I saved from the Sichuan duck experiments. Use canola or peanut if you want a vegetarian or vegan option.
Pea Tips Stir-fried with Garlic Recipe
Qing Chao Dou Miao
If you multiply this stir-fry for more people, do it in batches. Otherwise, you’ll not reap the wok-hay benefits and the tips loose a bit of their zest.
6 to 7 ounces pea tips
6 tablespoons chicken stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons rendered chicken or duck fat, or canola or peanut oil
2 or 3 large cloves garlic, minced
1. Use your fingers to break off and discard the fine curly tendrils from each pea tip. Then break the pea tip into 3-inch lengths, dropping them into a bowl. Set aside near the stove. (This is a great group task or assignment for kids!)
2. Combine the chicken stock and cornstarch and set aside near the stove.
3. Heat the fat in wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry for about 15 seconds, until aromatic.
Add the pea tips and a generous sprinkling of salt. Stir to combine and prevent the garlic from browning. When the pea tips have wilted to about 1/3 of their original volume, about 45 seconds, give the stock a stir, then add to the pea tips.
Stir and cook for about 30 seconds, until the liquid has thickened slightly. The pea tips should be now about 1/4 of their original volume, signaling that they are done.
3. Remove from the heat, taste for salt. Transfer to a plate or shallow bowl and serve.
- Easy Asparagus with soy sauce and sesame recipe (celebrate another spring time
vegetable Asian style)
- To grow your own, see these two Asian seed specialists: Evergreen Seed and Kitazawa Seed.
What's your favorite way of cooking pea tips? Care to share?