Friday, March 2, 2012

snow pea tips

One of my favorite "off-the-menu" dishes to order at a Chinese restaurant is snow pea tips, the tendrils of the pea vine. Tender and delicate, they taste like the embodiment of Spring. Although not many Chinese restaurants list it on the menu, they almost always have it if you ask. My theory is that they keep it in the kitchen for the staff meal or for discerning customers like myself! Perhaps because spring pea tips aren't on the menu, they tend to be on the expensive side  for a vegetable side dish at a Chinese restaurant.

I stopped by the Chinese grocery to grab some staples the other day and saw a big bag of pea tips on sale. A little googling gave me some ideas, and presto! The dish was on the table in 10 minutes. Another reason to love Chinese food.

Note - the best tip for this dish is to undercook it. You want to retain the vegetable's delicacy, and it'll keep cooking after you plate, so taste, and when it tastes just a bit raw, turn off the flames and scoop onto a plate.

Stir-fried Spring Pea Tips
2 bunches spring pea tips, cleaned and trimmed
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
splash of shao-hsing wine (can substitute white wine or sherry)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat sautee pan on medium-high heat. When pan is hot, pour in vegetable oil and wait about 30 seconds. Add garlic and sautee on medium heat until garlic is golden-brown. Add spring tea tips, and 1/2 cup of water, and turn heat on high. Sautee until vegetables begin to wilt, then add a splash of shao-hsing wine (optional, but I find it adds some complexity to the flavor). Taste and plate when pea tips taste just on the verge of losing their rawness. Serve immediately.

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