Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Easiest Springtime Accompaniment – Pea Shoots, the Veg de Jour

Pea shoots are in.

Every supermarket wants to flog them to me - I can’t open any food magazine without being told they’re a must-have of the season. There are websites dedicated to them, and even Nigel Slater, whom I utterly adore, pins up the glorious greens and paired them with spelt risotto in last Sunday’s Observer Food Monthly.

And who am I to disagree with Nigel Slater.

Unfortunately, unlike Nigel, I don’t have a garden, and with defiant un-saintly behaviour snatch bags of shoots from the supermarket when I see them. I am hooked. And a total victim of supermarket marketing.

Anyway, I have the most easiest most stylish accompaniment to any Chinese dish (yes, it deserves multiple superlatives it’s that easy). It takes literally three minutes from start to finish, and I’ve been cooking this for years. Pea shoots can often be found on Chinese restaurant menus but I always try to resist ordering them as the cost is usually more that I can morally part with for a plate of leaves.

Flash-cooked garlicky pea shoots (or dou miu)
Serves 2

I prefer using soy sauce usually, but if the main dish it accompanies has lots of it in, then I may use Shaoxing rice wine with salt instead. I like these with chicken with chinese mushrooms.
You can use any leaf like baby spinach if you can't find pea shoots.
Make these at the very last minute, just as you are about to serve. It’s eye-blinkingly quick.

2 bags of washed pea shoots OR 100g pea shoots washed
1 BIG garlic clove finely chopped
EITHER 1 tablespoon light soy sauce OR 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice with a little salt
A little sunflower/vegetable oil for frying

Heat wok/frying pan until very hot. Add oil, and wait until very hot.
Add garlic and soften for half a minute
Up-end the two bags of pea shoots into the wok. Stir fry for 20 seconds.
Add the soy sauce/Shaoxing wine and salt and stir fry for half a minute until the leaves are slightly wilted. You don’t want these mushy.
Done. Serve immediately.


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