Dave has this gorgeous garden in our backyard that precedes very first case of COVID19 lurking in the markets of Wuhan. He’s been cultivating vegetables (and a few fruits) for us for years and treating us to fresh food all year long.
Little did I know that this little backyard hobby would become a huge boon for us now that we’re hunkered down with the recent Shelter In Place directive here in California.
While we can still go out to the grocery stores as part of these orders, the hours are limited, the number of people who can enter the store at a time is few, and when you go there’s no guarantee you can actually get what you came for (*cough* toilet paper *cough*).
Hence, we’re doing everything we can to make the most of our backyard garden. (Plus, I’ve been meaning to make Stir Fried Snow Pea Leaves forever and now just seemed to be the perfect time.)
While I was doing my research for this recipe, I realized that it was extremely unclear to me how to actually harvest the snow pea leaves directly from the plant so I wanted to describe what I learned. The plants are a tangled mess of vines that send out curling side shoots and flowers in an interwoven delicate web.
So where the heck do I pick the leaves?? Does it matter??
Fortunately, trial and error lead me to the solution. The best part of the plant to pick are the tips of the main vines where the growth is newest and most tender. When you harvest, make sure to bend the vine to see where it snaps. If there is no snap and just a bend, cut your losses and move on to a different part of the plant- the bendy stem is too woody and will be inedible. My first harvest, I picked the curly side shoots and the dish was terrible because they were so woody.
How many plants are you going to need?
Well that definitely will depend on your goals of course. I am no gardener so I can’t tell you the official names of anything, but each individual pea plant shoots up multiple vines and each of these will have multiple tender tips for harvesting. (Each of these vines will have even more of the woodier side shoots, which you can ignore for the purposes of leaves, but you should get a nice harvest of actual peas growing here!)
But just for reference, I was probably able about a quarter of a pound of harvest off of 2 mature plants. We ended up growing about 4-5 plants, and it would be my recommendation to grow this many or more you’re really trying to use these for the leaves. You will be able to get several harvests before your plants run out of steam for the season.
Harvesting them as close to the time you’re going to cook them is ideal. If you need to store them ahead of time, make sure to double check your leaves that they are still tender and “snappy” for best results. Soak in cold water to revive any limp leaves.
Moving on to the recipe…
This dish could not be more simple, but you need to prep everything and have it easily accessible so you can move fast! Stir frying is a wonderful preparation method, but you want to make sure not to overcook your veggies. (Especially if you took so much care in growing and harvesting them!)
Toss a generous amount of slivered garlic to your wok and saute for just a few moments before adding your greens. The only seasoning is a little salt and some bouillon for flavor just like the restaurants. Water from the veggies will mix with the seasoning and make a delicate little sauce.
They are tender like new asparagus with all of the sweetness of fresh peas. And the sauce is so delicate and light that it doesn’t overpower the vegetable, but really enhances the natural flavors. I never thought I could enjoy eating vegetables as much as I enjoy these. I hope you get addicted like us!
Stir Fried Snow Pea LeavesCourse: SidesCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Easy
Simple and fast side dish using delicate Asian greens.
1/2 lb snow pea leaves
4 cloves garlic, slivered
1/4 teaspoon beef or chicken bouillon (I used beef), crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
Generous glug of vegetable oil (about 2 tablespoons)
- To prepare snow pea leaves – find the most tender shoots on the plant by looking for the top of the vine, and bend the new growth – only take the stems that snap easily. If they bend but don’t snap, they are too woody. If using store bought, make sure to check for similar tenderness and discard/trim stems that are too woody. Trim off any curly tendrils, buds, or flowers.
- Rinse snow pea leaves in a bowl of cold water. Note- if using store bought leaves and they seem a little limp, soak in cold water for about a half hour to help rehydrate. Drain leaves, but do not completely dry, you will want a tablespoon or so of water left to steam and make the sauce. Set aside.
- Add vegetable oil and garlic to cold wok and turn heat to high. Stirring constantly, saute until garlic starts to fry. Stir for just a few seconds more.
- Dump snow pea leaves from bowl directly into the wok. Add crushed bouillon and salt.
- Stir fry until leaves are just wilted and shoots are a bright green color, about 1-2 minutes. Do not over-cook.
- If you are growing your own Snow Peas for the purpose of making this type of dish, we found the Mammoth Melting Snow Pea to be the most successful.