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Monday, February 27, 2012

Your Seasonal Produce Guide: Pea Shoots

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Pea Shoots - ADAM KUBAN/FLICKR
  • Adam Kuban/flickr
  • Pea Shoots
A weekly series on what to do with your farmers' market impulse buys and CSA box surprises.

Pea shoots are the leafy greens and curly tendrils of a pea plant. All pea plants produce shoots, but more often than not they come from a snow pea plant. They taste mildly of fresh peas and are slightly crunchy when raw.

pea sprouts - THSNTNT/FLICKR
  • thsntnt/flickr
  • pea sprouts
How do I buy them? Often pea sprouts are mislabeled as pea shoots in American grocery stores. The larger shoots are sometimes called by their Chinese name, Dau Miu. They can be found at the Alemany Farmers' Market as well as produce stores on Clement Street and in Chinatown.

The leaves should be whole and bright green, with tendrils intact. They are delicate and don't last long once purchased. Keep them in an open plastic bag, wrapped loosely in a paper towel, for no more than two to three days before cooking.

How do I eat them? Pea shoots are best when cooked quickly over medium to high heat. Wash and dry thoroughly before cooking (a salad spinner is helpful to remove any excess moisture). Heat 1 tablespoon peanut or grape seed oil in a wok or saute pan. Add one pound of pea shoots to the pan, stir-frying for one minute or until wilted. Toss in one tablespoon soy sauce, or season to taste with salt, and serve immediately. Pea sprouts have a similar flavor and can be used in place of pea shoots, just shorten the cooking time slightly.

Marla Simon is a San Francisco-based chef, food stylist, and food writer. Follow her on Twitter at @Marla_Simon. Follow us at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.
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