I picked up some pea shoots from the St Norbert Farmers’ Market this weekend. This one vendor/farm produce mostly Asian vegetables, so these pea shoots had bigger leaves and stems than perhaps usual. They’re not quite as sweet, and a little fibrous, so they lend themselves well to cooking.
Pea shoots taste like the shells of edible-shell peas. Maybe a little more grassy. When they’re young, they’re also noticeably sweet.
There are many variations on sauteed pea shoots out there, but here’s how I did mine. (I didn’t have fresh garlic, only garlic powder, but I’ve included how I would use fresh garlic. Also, I used bacon fat because I love the faint hint of smoke it imparts, but use whatever cooking fat/oil you normally use.)
Hardware and ingredients with approximate measurements:
pea shoots, maybe 2-3 big handfuls
fresh garlic OR garlic powder, 1-2 cloves, or approx 1tsp powder
sesame oil (approx 1.5 tsp, just for flavour)
cooking fat (eg: canola oil, bacon fat, etc), enough to cook with
salt to taste
large frying pan and a spatula of some kind
Wash and dry lightly (no need to get them completely dry).
Snip thick vines into approx 5cm (2in) lengths. Don’t touch the leaves. Leave the thin vines and tendrils as they are. (I didn’t do this, and regretted it when I would try to eat a rather fibrous shoot.)
If using fresh garlic: crush a few cloves to remove the skin and release juices. Heat sesame oil and cooking fat on medium heat in frying pan. Cook the garlic until browned to impart flavour to the oil. Remove garlic. (You can throw it out, use it later, or put it back in later, whatever you wish!) Increase to med-high to high heat and wait for pan to heat through.
If using garlic powder: Heat sesame oil and cooking fat on med-high to high heat in frying pan and wait for pan to heat through.
Add the pea shoots. It may be loud. That’s ok.
Shake pan slightly and mix to get the uncooked shoots to the bottom, but be gentle so as not to tear the leaves. Pretend we’re trying to sear the shoots (don’t actually brown them though), we want high heat!
If using garlic powder, sprinkle on after most of the shoots have wilted. Mix well to incorporate.
Reduce heat. Cook until desired doneness, mixing occasionally. For me, this took another minute or two.