But, first, an introduction to this lovely vegetable is in order.
Is “pea shoots” another name for pea sprouts?
There’s a difference, actually, although the origin is the same. Pea sprouts and pea shoots are both grown from peas. Sprouts are younger and shoots are a few days older.
To make it even more illustrative, sprouts are what you get when you soak peas in water and you harvest the growth after a few days. You eat the shoot, the root and what remains of the seed.
Shoots are what you get when you plant the peas in soil and allow them to grow until leaves appear on top. To harvest shoots, the young plant is cut right above the soil.
Can pea shoots be eaten raw?
Yes, both pea sprouts and shoots can be eaten raw. They are lightly crisp which makes them a great addition to salads. But they’re so good too when cooked. The trick is to cook for a very short time so that they retain their crunch.
In this recipe, the pea shoots and garlic are sauteed in sesame seed oil. That might sound surprising for folks who treat sesame seed oil as a finishing oil. But, trust me, when used sparingly and with the right ingredients, it is a terrific base for a sauteed dish.
First, cut the pea shoots into three portions — bottom, middle and top — and keep them in three separate piles.
Start by sauteeing garlic in sesame seed oil. Add the pile with the bottom portion of the shoots and saute with the garlic. This is the toughest part of the shoots and, hence, requires the longest cooking time.
Next, throw in the middle portion of the shoots and continue sauteeing. Finally, add the leafy tops, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute for 20 seconds or so.
The pea shoots are done when the leaves soften and start to wilt. Scoop out the sauteed pea shoots and garlic, and transfer to a plate immediately so that the shoots don’t overcook in the residual heat.
Sauteed pea shoots and garlic
- Rinse the pea shoots and drain well.
- Cut the shoots into three portions (bottom, middle and top).
- Peel the garlic and thinly slice.
- Set a saute pan or wok on medium-low, pour in the sesame seed oil and wait to heat up for about 30 seconds before spreading the garlic slices in the hot oil.
- Cook the garlic without disturbing until the edges start to brown a bit.
- Add a bottom third of the pea shoots and cook, tossing a few times, for half a minute.
- Add the middle third of the shoots, stir and cook for about 20 seconds.
- Add the top third of the pea shoots, and sprinkle in the salt and pepper.
- Cook for another 20 seconds, stirring a few times, just until the leaves are starting to wilt.
- Serve your sauteed pea shoots and garlic immediately.