Stir-Fried Snow Pea Leaves with Garlic Scapes

Created by Leda Scheintaub

Snow pea leaves, also known as snow pea shoots or snow pea tips, are the prelude to the pea, the tips of the snow pea vines with beautiful radiating tendrils. Their flavor profile is completely different from the pods—slightly sweet, grassy, and fresh tasting—and a moreish introduction to the world of lesser-known Asian greens. There’s a short window for snow pea leaves—just before snow pea pod season steps in—so make them your green of choice in stir-fries, soups, and salads whenever you can. And when you see them on the menu in a Chinese restaurant, order them in season under the name dou miao or dau miu for a special treat.

Stir-Fried Snow Pea Leaves
Stir-Fried Snow Pea Leaves

Garlic scapes are the flavor base of this stir-fry; these garlic bulb stems are green in color, shaped into a curl, and end with a tightly closed bud. The stems are harvested to prevent the bulbs from draining nutrients before they are dug up later in the season.

Get out your largest skillet to make this dish; you’ll start with a hefty bag full of the leaves and watch their volume decrease dramatically in the couple of minutes they take to cook. If you can’t fit the full quantity into the pan at once, add them by the handful as they cook down and create more space in the pan.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon unrefined plain sesame oil, or as needed
4 garlic scapes, chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
Large pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste
8 ounces snow pea leaves
2 tablespoons vegetable or chicken stock
1 tablespoon tamari, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or to taste
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 radish, cut into very thin moon or half-moon shapes

Heat the plain sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the scapes and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until starting to soften and darken in color. Add the ginger and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds, adding a tiny bit more oil if the ginger starts to stick to the pan.

Reserve a handful of snow peas for garnish, add the rest to the pan, and cook, tossing with tongs, until almost completely wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the stock and tamari and cook until the snow pea leaves are completely wilted, about 30 seconds. Add the toasted sesame oil and lime juice and remove from the heat. Transfer to a bowl and serve garnished with the reserved raw snow pea leaves and the radishes.

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©2015 Rebecca Wood