Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ginger and Garlic Stir Fried Snap Peas

Stir frying is one of my favorite cooking methods. It is usually quick, tasty, and interesting, especially if you are a fan of assertive flavors such as ginger, garlic, and chilies. Snap peas, and also snow peas, are both great for stir frying because they hold their shape well during cooking, are easy to cook in whole form, and are the best when served crisp-tender (tender to the bite but with a little bit of crunch still left).

Here is a quick spring pea identification lesson: Shelling peas, or English peas, are thick, full pea pods with distinctive tender whole green peas inside. Usually these peas are shelled from the pod and then used, and the pod can be used for soup. Snap peas are pods that are a little less full, and a bit smaller than shelling peas, but still contain a whole green pea inside. Both the pod and pea are eaten together as one whole unit rather than separate, and usually the pods need to be de-stringed. Snow peas are wide, very flat pea pods with just the start of green peas forming inside. These too are eaten as one whole unit, and also need to b de-stringed. Snow peas are what we typically see in Asian stir frys. Any of these peas could be used for this recipe.

The issue with stir frying is that it needs to be quick and done over high heat. This can take some practice. My advice is to have everything that will be used in the stir fry cut and ready to go before the pan even goes on the burner. Have everything close at hand so that you can go straight from one step to the next without hesitation. This makes stir frying a whole lot easier. I also feel that a gas stove is the best for stir frying. The heat can be controlled easily, and gas stoves usually have enough power to keep the wok hot. When stir frying, add the ingredients to the pan according to how long they will take to cook. For dense ingredients, such as carrots, broccoli, and onions, slice thin or cut into small florets and add in the beginning. For aromatic ingredients such as garlic, ginger, and chilies, mince and add more towards the end to keep them fragrant and fresh. Eggplant, sliced peppers, cut green beans and peas, and summer squash can all be added in the middle of the stir frying process, again, depending on what ingredients are being used. Add delicate greens and herbs right at the end, along with any sauce ingredients. Most any vegetable can be stir fried, so try this recipe with any of your favorite seasonal vegetables. some of my favorites are summer squash with the addition of Thai basil, broccoli florets, sweet potato slices, green beans, and asparagus.

Ginger and Garlic Stir Fried Snap Peas

-2 teaspoons coconut oil or olive oil (I prefer an unrefined coconut butter or oil for stir frying)

-3/4 pound de-stringed snap peas

-2 whole scallions, sliced thin

-1 generous tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

-1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic, about 4 cloves

-3 tablespoons vegetable stock or water

-1 teaspoon chili paste (optional if you like a little heat in your stir fry)

-2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

-2 teaspoons sesame seeds

-Salt to taste

Heat a large, flat bottom wok over medium high heat. Add in the coconut oil/butter and as it melts scoop the oil up the sides of the pan to coat. Add in the snap peas and stir fry continuously until the peas begin to turn a bright green and ever so slightly soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the scallions and again stir continuously until they begin to wilt, about 30 seconds to a minute. Add in the minced ginger and garlic. Stir fry continuously until the ginger and garlic become very fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add in the vegetable stock, stir to coat the peas, and cook for about2 minutes more, or until the peas are a crisp tender. The stock or water will help to soften the peas just a little and to moisten the whole mixture. Add in the chili paste if using. Turn off the heat and mix in the sesame oil, seeds, and salt to taste.

1 comment:

Yvette Acord said...

I had just bought snap peas at farmer's market Saturday, but wasn't sure what I'd do with them. The thought of steaming or sauteeing them seemed a little boring. I read your stir-fry recipe Sunday and made them for dinner that night. It was super quick and delicious. Thanks for the great dish!