My favorite thing about working with food is that there is always something new to discover; a new technique, fun fact, or new ingredient just waiting to peak the curiosity. On the weekends, I love to wander the local farmers market and see what is in season and if there is something new to work onto my dinner plate. This weekend did not disappoint as I discovered two new ingredients I hadn’t worked with before, pea shoots and pac choi (also seen as pak choy).
The tangled little bundles of pea vines on the table were so inviting and lured me in for a conversation with the farmer. Pea shoots are the young and tender vines of the pea plant available during spring and early summer season. A delicate green traditionally used in Asian cuisine that can be eaten fresh or cooked and could be used as a substitute for similar greens, like spinach. A little bundle was definitely coming home with me. Next I stumbled across what at first I thought was baby bok choy, a bunch of leafy greens with white stalks, but a tiny hand written chalk sign said different, pac choi. Another conversation starter as I tried to figure out what the difference between pac choi and bok choy was, as they looked identical. The differences are small as they are essentially the same plant, both Chinese cabbage, but as the farmer explained pac choi at full size is about the size of a baby bok choy. Intrigued and excited by my farmers market finds I went home with inspiration for my dinner in hand.
Stir-Fried Pea Shoots & Pac Choi
- Vegetable Oil 2 tablespoons
- Sesame Oil ½ teaspoon
- Yellow Onion 1 each, peeled & julienned
- Fresh Garlic 3 cloves, peeled & minced
- Fresh Ginger 1 inch piece, peeled & finely grated
- Pea Shoots 1 pound, washed & cut into 2 inch pieces
- Pac Choi 1 each, washed & cut into 1 inch pieces
- Tamari or Soy Sauce 2 tablespoons
- Black Pepper to taste
- Sesame Seeds for garnish
- Prepare and measure all your ingredients and set aside. Pro Tip: Freeze the fresh ginger first before peeling and grating! I recommend using a microplane zester to get a finely grated ginger.
- In a skillet or wok, combine the vegetable and sesame oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add the julienned onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the onions start to caramelize and turn golden brown.
- Add the minced garlic and grated fresh ginger and cook for about a minute, tossing often.
- Next add the pea shoots and pac choi and toss together with the onions, garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for a minute or two just until the pea shoots and pac choi are slightly wilted.
- Add the tamari or soy sauce and black pepper to taste. Toss together, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.
- Stir-fried pea shoots & pac choi go great with steamed jasmine rice or even some chicken satay!