Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sweet Green Pea Shoots

Many years ago prodded by a waiter at an unfamiliar Chinese restaurant (and by nearby diners digging into the as yet unknown vegetable) I first discovered snow pea shoots quickly sautéed with plenty of garlic. I fell in love with the sweet springy flavor: somehow a more delicious cross between peas, baby spinach and parsley. A vibrant vegetable taste crying out for fluffy steamed rice and a hint of chile sauce.
Since that night I've searched out the spring favorite in Asian restaurants and farmer's markets everywhere. I crave them when weather turns warm and tonight I based our dinner on a fresh picked bag I brought home this afternoon. I sautéed the greens with garlic and caramelized red onion with a quick sauce of chicken broth, rice wine, and fish sauce after a recipe from Charles Phan -- chef and proprietor of one of my long time favorite San Francisco restaurants, The Slanted Door. Grilled chicken breasts marinated in garlic, fish sauce, molasses, lemon juice, sesame oil and chile pepper flakes became a savory side for our steamed rice. Though it's probably not a traditional pairing, savory peanut sauce (1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, 1 TB soy sauce, 2 tsp minced garlic, 5 tsp apple cider vinegar, 11/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper mixed with 1/4 cup hot water) offered a salty foil for the meal's gently sweet flavors.

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