Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ack, Gack

They're pretty, aren't they? Twisty, curly, like they came from a strange planet.
And the flavor is also out of this world, though I can identify it: Peas.
This was our first attempt to cook pea shoots. Blend them with some lovely oyster mushrooms in a skillet with a little grease and water. Toss. Cover until they become tender and serve over rice.
They didn't become tender!
The leaves got tender, but it was a throat-gagging experience to nibble them off the sharp sticks, I mean stems.
My only guess is that these pea shoots were too old, and shame on the farmer who sold them.
Unless I'm wrong. Ideas?


hanne said...

Oh dear yes. Overgrown is right. The little curly tendrils that are still tender enough to pinch off with your fingernails are what you're after. Either that, or just sprout the seeds (like any other sprouts) and use them when they have 2-4 leaves on them.

The variety of pea also matters. Snow pea shoots can be eaten a little later than sugar snaps or shelling pea shoots can, in my experience.

In Chinese cooking, the shoots are always blanched first, and drained thoroughly, before they are stir-fried. This helps cook them, and also takes some of the excess water out of them so you don't end up with sogginess in the wok.

Better luck next time! I'm so sorry it looked so much better than it tasted, but not surprised. I too was bitten by the overgrown pea shoot thing when I first started to cook them.

Zoomie said...

Ha,ha,ha! Love the Goldman Sucks! :-D I missed you while I was back East!

J-in-Wales said...

Pea shoots always seem like a heinous waste of peas to me.
Or perhaps I'm just bitter because some varmint has just eaten my entire first sowing, meaning that I shall have to wait even longer for peas... or even pea shoots.

cookiecrumb said...

Hanne: Remarkable! Thank you, thank you for this encyclopedic explanation. I learned a lot. In part, it wasn't my fault and in part, I did things wrong (like not even examining the stems for tenderness). I like the blanch-first technique, and the thorough drying before stir-frying. I will try again.

Zoomie: Goldman Sacks and then Goldman Sucks.
Welcome back. Somebody was writing your blog while you were away! ;-)

J-in-Wales: Well, I see your point! But you're just a little cross because of the varmints, aren't you? If you're in a restaurant, and not trying to grow a crop of harvestable peas, pea shoots are yummy. You knew that. xo

Zoomie said...

A clever dodge to fool the burglars.

Steph F. said...

My mom always had me separate the leaves from the stems before we cooked pea shoots. We kept the curly tender parts of the stem too.

I'm craving pea shoots now!

peter said...

I'm with J. They're tough unless you blanch and then purée and strain them to make a coulis. Otherwise, you might as well just floss and let the poor peas grow.

El said...

Wow I can't contribute to anything Hanne has said. Get 'em young, in other words; I always try to get the first branched (not main) shoot. Shoot!

Hungry Dog said...

I had this exact experience a few years ago with some pea shoots that arrived in our produce box. Unfortunately, I had decided to serve them to guests. They were a disaster. Inedible.

Greg said...

No nibbling off sharp sticks! I learned that in the Army. Uncle Sam's money well spent! ;)
They look so tender in the photo.

Rev. Biggles said...

You wouldn't have had that problem if you'd substituted bacon. Vegetables can be dangerous.

xo, Biggles

namastenancy said...

Biggles and Bacon - ROFLOL! Trust the meat guy to have the funniest post in the thread. I've never tried to eat pea sprouts; in fact, I never even THOUGHT about eating them. But I have enough greens in my fridge so I think I'll pass on these sprouts. But Rev Biggles has a point - blanched and cooked Southern style with bacon would made a mighty fine mess o'peas.

cookiecrumb said...

Steph: Well, it's an extra step, but worth it. I feel let down. My first try. :(

Peter: If you have tender intact tendrils, it's such a thing to behold. I'll try again next year, earlier.

El: Isn't Hanne awesome? Let's stalk her.

Dog: Bow, wow, wow. Sorry. Have you tried again?

Greg: No wonder you're the smart one!

Biggles: Well. There was bacon yesterday, but it was wrestling with sauteed cabbage.

Zoomie said...

Maybe there are different varieties of peas, some grown for the peas themselves and others grown for the tender sprouts? Check this photo:

We had pea sprouts in our salads there and they were not gacky, just tender and sweet and tasting of fresh peas...