Jan 30, 2013

Snow Peas

Snow Peas with Tobiko
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The snow pea has had many other names, depending on where you are from. They are some times referred to as edible podded peas, snap peas or sugar peas. Although widely considered a Chinese vegetable, snow peas actually originated in Holland in 1563 and were then known as Dutch peas. They were grown widely in England and Europe in the nineteenth century. English traders first brought the Dutch peas to China, and they were a big hit. The Chinese name for snow pea is hoh laan dau—which means Holland pea.

So where did the name "snow" pea come from? It seems that immigrant Cantonese farmers in San Francisco during the nineteenth century called the Chinese pea shii dau—"snow pea". No one is sure why, but it may be called "snow" pea because of their tendency to grow at the end of winter, just before the last spring freeze. They can be covered with snow during these times.

Snow peas and sugar snap peas are actually two different things. Snow peas have flat pods with small, undeveloped flat peas. Sugar snap peas, which are plump with fully developed peas and edible pods, are a cross between English peas and snow peas. In French, both peas are called mange-tout (pronounced mawnzh too), meaning "eat it all." See recipe below for Pickled Sugarsnap Peas.

Snow peas are sweet and delicate with tiny seeds that are barely visible through the slender green pods. They are usually 2 to 3 inches long with smooth, firm bright green skin. Before cooking or eating them, there are two things to do: rinse them in water, then grab or cut the tip of each snow pea and pull out the tough string that runs along its side. They are one of the easiest vegetables to prepare. Snow peas are great in stir-fries and Oriental soups. Serve as a vegetable by themselves enhanced with garlic, ginger or hot peppers. Pair with shrimp, pork or chicken. You can even stir fry the leaves of the snow pea, see recipe below. To store, refrigerate snow peas in a perforated plastic bag. As with any tender garden vegetable, snow peas are best eaten within two days.

Nutritional Value: An excellent source of protein, snow peas offer carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, folic acid, potassium and calcium. Snow peas are higher in calcium and vitamin A than other type peas, plus are lower in calories. A three and a half ounce serving contains about 43 calories.

Note: If you have a vegetable garden here in Hawaii, the variety ‘Manoa Sugar’, is adapted to Hawaii’s growing conditions and is resistant to powdery mildew. Other varieties said to do well in Hawaii include ‘Oregon Sugar’, ‘Oregon Giant’, and ‘Dwarf Grey Sugar’.

Snow Pea Recipes:

Snow Peas with Tobiko
This is a beautiful appetizers, or side dish that is very easy to make, and delicious. Tobiko is the Japanese name for flying fish eggs, and is usually available at Japanese markets. If you can't get tobiko, substitute roasted sesame seeds.

1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 pound tobiko

Trim snow peas and rinse in cold water. Gently pat the snow peas dry in a clean kitchen towel. Add water to a medium sized pot and add salt, then bring to a boil. When water is boiling, add the snow peas and gently stir. When the water comes to a boil again, approximately 1 minute, drain the snow peas in a strainer. Immediately run cold water over the snow peas to cool them and stop the cooking. Gently dry off snow peas in a clean kitchen towel, and refrigerate. Just before you are ready to serve, combine soy sauce and sesame oil in a medium sized bowl. Add the cold peas, and gently toss to cover with sauce. Drain any remaining sauce from bowl. Add half of the tobiko and gently toss. Serve topped with remaining tobikko. Makes 4 servings.

Chinese Snow Pea-Wrapped Shrimp
These beautiful appetizers are full of Chinese flavor, and are very easy to make.
20 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
20 snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
soy sauce for dipping (optional)

Combine shrimp, garlic, ginger, 5 spice powder, salt and oil in a medium sized bowl, and toss until everything's covered. Marinate for up to four hours. Boil a pot of water and add the snow peas to blanch for one minute. Drain and run cold water over the peas. Cook shrimp in saute pan for roughly three minutes, or until cooked through. Cool to room temperature. Wrap one snow pea around each shrimp and secure in place with a skewer or toothpick. Refrigerate before serving. Makes 10 servings (2 per person).

Snow Peas with Mushrooms
1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil
1 small onion, sliced
4 ounces fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1 pound snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
pinch of granulated sugar
black pepper to taste
sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Add the peas, broth, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and pepper. Stir fry for about 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Serve immediately, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Makes 4 servings.

Snow Peas & Tomatoes
1 1/2 cups snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon butter
1/4 teaspoon sugar
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Cook first four ingredients over medium high heat for 2 minutes in a skillet or until liquid evaporates. Then add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are heated thoroughly. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Serve immediately as a side dish. Makes 2 servings.

Stir-fried Snow Pea Leaves with Garlic
The leafy leaves and stalks of the snow pea plant, near the pods, are actually excellent to eat, you just have to be sure to remove the curly tendrils that hold the snow pea plant onto your trellis because they are tough. The taste is reminiscent of the snow peas themselves, but with a grassier, fresher flavor that's unique to the plant. This is a very easy recipe to make, plus it is delicious combined with slivers of pork, or egg, or even crab meat. They may be hard to find unless you grow your own. They are usually sold at Chinese markets.
1/2 pound snow pea leaves (only the tender tips of the vine)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix water, cornstarch and kosher salt together and set aside. Mix once again before adding to the pea tips. Heat wok over high heat and add oil; add garlic and stir quickly so it wont burn; add pea tips and toss to coat in oil and garlic. When the pea tips have wilted by 1/3, add the cornstarch mixture. Toss pea tips until wilted to 1/4 its volume. this whole process will take only about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Makes 2 servings.

Linguine & Clams with Snow Peas
1 box (16 ounce ) linguine, cooked and drained
2 cups fresh snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
4 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) chopped clams, drained (save 1/4 cup of clam juice)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced
parmesan cheese, grated

Cook linguine in boiling salted water for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked but firm to the bite. Meanwhile, blanch snow peas in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, drain and set aside. Saute drained clams in butter, olive oil, reserved clam juice, red pepper flakes, and garlic, about 3 minutes. Pour clam sauce over hot linguine. Add parsley and mix together. Serve and top with hot snow peas around the edges. Top with grated parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Snow Peas with Gingered Shrimp
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup fresh snow peas
1 (8 ounces) water chestnuts
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
chow mein noodles or rice

Heat wok. Add oil, garlic. Add shrimp. Stir fry 2 minutes. Set aside. Add water chestnuts, snow peas, soy sauce, stir fry for 2 minutes. Combine cornstarch with water and chicken broth. Add to wok; return shrimp, ginger, stir. Makes 4 servings.

Snow Peas with Fried Tofu
1 pound super firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed, strings removed

Combine soy sauce, sherry, ginger, garlic powder, and water and pour into bag with tofu. Marinate in the refrigerator 4 to 5 hours, turning bag over occasionally so that all pieces of tofu absorb the marinate. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove tofu from bag, reserving marinade. Place tofu in skillet. Cook, turning tofu so that it browns lightly on all sides. Pour marinade into small bowl and add cornstarch, until dissolved. When tofu is browned, add snow peas and marinade to skillet. Cook 1 minute more. Makes 4 servings.

Stir-Fried Salmon with Vegetables
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pound salmon, skinned, boned and cut into 3/4" cubes
5 teaspoons oil
1/2 pound bean sprouts
1/2 pound snow peas
1 cup sliced green onions
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine two tablespoons of the oyster sauce with vinegar, ginger, soy sauce and one clove garlic. Season with pepper, if desired. Add fish, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least a half-hour. In a seasoned wok, heat two teaspoons of the oil over high heat. Add remaining garlic, stir fry 30 seconds. Add sprouts, peas, green onions and red pepper. Stir-fry two minutes or until tender-crisp. Stir in the remaining one tablespoon of oyster sauce, sesame oil, sugar and pepper. Remove from skillet and set aside. Drain fish, discarding marinade. Heat remaining oil in same skillet. Add fish and stir-fry about four minutes or until done. Add vegetables. Gently toss. Heat through and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Wok-Fried Chicken with Cashews & Snow Peas
4 chicken thighs, skinned, boned, and cut in 1-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
20 snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup hot chicken stock (broth)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted cashew nuts, toasted

Marinate chicken pieces 15 minutes in mixture of next 5 ingredients – garlic, soy sauce, mirin, cornstarch, and hoisin sauce. Heat oil in uncovered wok at 375˚F. Add chicken mixture; stir-fry 3 minutes. Add snow peas and water chestnuts; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add chicken stock and salt; stir-fry until slightly thickened. Stir in cashews. Serve immediately with rice. Makes 2 servings.

Snow Peas with Mushrooms and Wild Rice
1 package (6 oz.) long grain white rice and wild rice
1 1/2 cups snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
1 1/4 cups white button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Cook rice according to package directions. Stir in remaining ingredients. Place in ungreased 9 inch square baking dish. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Bake, covered, 20 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Snow Pea Salad with Rare Roast Beef
Dressing Ingredients:
5 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
juice from one lime
5 teaspoons sesame oil
5 teaspoons soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed & minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt & pepper

Salad Ingredients:
4 ounces snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
16 ounces rare roast beef, sliced into bit sized thin pieces
1 large red bell pepper cut into 1 1/2" x 1/4" strips
4 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
3 bunches watercress, stems removed
2 cups purple cabbage, sliced thin
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

In a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients together. For salad, place snow peas in shallow pan of boiling water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and blanch for 30 seconds, or until peas are crisp tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Dry thoroughly. Add snow peas, beef, pepper strips, mushrooms and 3 tablespoons sesame seeds to dressing in bowl. Toss. Line 4 plates with a mixture of watercress and shredded purple cabbage. Divide beef salad among plates. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sesame seeds. Garnish with cherry tomatoes. Makes 4 servings.

Stir-Fried Mixed Vegetables
1/3 cup cold water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon grated ginger root
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly bias-sliced (1 cup)
1 cup fresh snow peas, strings removed
5 green onions, bias-sliced into 1-inch lengths (1 cup)
1/2 cup sliced fresh button mushrooms
1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained

For sauce, stir together water, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, ginger root, and pepper. Set aside. Preheat a wok over high heat; add canola oil. (Add more oil as necessary during cooking.) Stir-fry carrots in hot oil for 2 minutes. Add onions and mushrooms; stir-fry about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in snow peas and water chestnuts and cook for 1 minute more. Push vegetables from center of the wok. Stir sauce; add to center of the wok. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Stir in the vegetables to coat with the sauce. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Snow Peas with Chinese Sausage
1 tablespoon oil
3 4-inch links Chinese sausage (lap cheong), sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
3/4 pound snow peas
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
sesame seeds, toasted

Heat a wok or large frying pan on medium heat and swirl in oil. Add sausage and cook until fat renders out and meat is crispy and caramelized on edges. Chinese sausage burns easily, so keep heat no higher than medium. Remove fully-cooked sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate. Increase heat to high. When wok smokes, add snow peas and toss to coat with fat. Stir fry just until snow peas are bright in color with blistered spots, then add rice wine and return sausage to wok. Let wine mostly cook out while stirring to combine, then salt to taste. Transfer to a serving plate and drizzle on sesame oil and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Makes 4 servings.

Pickled Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas are not snow peas, but they are equally good and they make excellent pickles.
12 ounces sugar snap peas (4 to 5 cups)
1 1/4 cups rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 thin slices fresh ginger
1 green onion
1 sprig of fresh mint

Wash the sugar snap peas well. Using a knife, trim both ends and remove the tough string that runs along the back of the peas. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, honey and sea salt. Heat until the honey and salt are entirely dissolved. Prepare a 24 or 32 ounce mason jar. Place the ginger slices in the bottom. Cut the green onion into 2 or 3 segments, so that they fit the jar. Stand them up in the jar, along with the sprig of mint. Pack the prepared sugar snaps into the jar. If they don’t all fit, set them aside. You may be able to sneak them in once the pickling liquid is poured. Pour the hot vinegar over the sugar snaps. Gently tap the jar on the counter to release any air bubbles. If you had any remaining peas, try and pack them into the jar at this time. Place a lid on the jar and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour then transfer to refrigerator. Let the pickles sit in the vinegar at least 24 hours before eating. They will keep up to 1 month in the refrigerator. Makes 1 quart.

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