Friday 21 May 2010

Easy Pea-sy way to grow the chinese delicacy Pea Sprouts

One of my all-time favourite dishes to order when we dine at a proper authentic Chinese restaurant is "Stir fried Snow Pea Sprouts". Pea Sprouts are also known as Pea Shoots, Pea Tips, Dou Miao or 豆苗, and is somewhat of a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. Now, I have discovered an easy pea-sy way of growing my own Pea Sprouts, thanks to Alys Fowler of the BBC's "Edible Garden" television series. Now, unlike Alys, I did not grow up in the country and thus do not have any green fingers or thumbs for that matter, so I was genuinely doubtful that I would be able to do this.

However, here is a picture capturing my fantastic results (the green stuff, not the Bollinger champagne)...!

How to Grow:
The first thing you need to do is buy some seeds: in this case, I am using a box of dried Marrowfat Peas (the kind you use to make pea soup or mushy peas).

Next, soak the peas in some water for a few hours and then place them into a container filled with compost/soil. You can pack them in densely, as you are are going to be harvesting them as young shoots, and so won't need to 'thin' the seedlings out. Literally, within a day, you will see small roots begin to sprout from your peas and then they will start to grow little shoots.

About two to three weeks later, your pea sprouts should be ready to be harvested and eaten!

Unfortunately, unless you buy specialty seeds, you are likely to get lots of tendrils on the pea sprouts. Personally, I find the young tendrils, once cooked, to be both tender and tasty, so I leave them on but once they are get too old, they will become tough and fibrous-y.

How to Cook:
A lot of people eat Pea shoots raw as part of a salad or a sandwich but I love doing it the Chinese way which is to simply stir-fry them with oil and (rather a lot of) garlic. You only need to cook them for a minute or two, as you do not want to overcook them. Pea Sprouts taste fresh, 'green' and simply amazing when cooked this way.

The full receipe for this dish, which is also called 'Qing Chao Dao Miao' can be found here.
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