You may have seen pea shoots appearing at your local farmers’ market – called doumiao in Mandarin, they are also often served in Chinese restaurants but often don’t appear on the menu. Instead, they fall under “seasonal vegetable” if there is such a category (or they appear on the menu written in Chinese that’s given to Chinese customers but not on the English one non-Chinese are handed!) Pea shoots appear at the Asian produce stands in late April/early May where we are in Southern California, and later into early summer as you go farther north. Their time on this earth is pretty short, so if you see them, get some! You will be surprised by their delicate flavor and how easy they are to cook.
- 1 lb pea shoots (it looks like a HUGE amount of food, but they shrink)
- 1 T oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
- As with many greens, pea shoots can be very sandy, so the best method for washing is to fill the sink with cool water to cover the shoots. Mix gently with your hands, then let them soak for at least 2 m. Remove to a strainer over a bowl without stirring up any grit from the sink bottom. Repeat as needed until no grit remains. Drain well, or you will create a dangerous splattering when the water drops hit the wok.
- Heat a wok over high heat, add the oil until it shimmers.
- Add the garlic and just cook until it releases its fragrance – it should not brown.
- Add the pea shoots, 1/4 tsp of the salt, and stirfry until just tender – the leaves will wilt a bit, but the stems should remain slightly crunchy. You may need to do this in batches – if you add too many to the wok all at once, they will steam instead of stirfrying and you will have too much liquid.
- Adjust the seasoning, and serve.