Pea greens are my absolute favourite leafy green vegetable but it seems that not many people (at least in my part of Canada) are familiar with them. Also known as pea shoots, snow pea leaf, or pea tips, they great steamed, in soup, sauteed or even raw in a salad. They are simply the leafy parts of a young pea plant.
I had pea greens at Chinese restaurants growing up but never really paid attention to them and my parents didn’t prepare them at home. Usually, my parents ordered a bunch of stuff and us kids would just eat everything without necessarily knowing what was in each dish. It was my sister who suggested a dish of pea greens once when we went out for family dinner. I only remember it was a few years ago and I don’t even remember if I was vegan at the time. This dish was full of steamed greens and flavoured with some fermented tofu, fu-yu. The taste was like a cross between spinach and the green part of bok choy, but with some more texture due to the pea stems. I was in love!
After this dinner, I set out to buy pea greens from T&T, the Asian supermarket. I was ecstatic when I found them and that they were not expensive at all. Well, sitting next to tak gou choy, they can seem “expensive” but to me, vegetables at Asian markets are all ridiculously cheap. This is especially true when you compare prices to regular chain supermarkets.
Pea Green Nutrition
Like other leafy greens, pea greens are high in vitamin A and C. It also contains essential nutrients like iron, calcium, protein and folic acid. Plus, they are very low in calories while still being filling.
How to Choose Pea Greens
I have found pea greens in Asian markets year-round; I just got some last night. However, they tend to be more widely available during spring and early summer. Choose greens that are crisp-looking, green without yellow edges, with vibrant, healthy-looking stems and tendrils. Try to get the ones with soft tendrils; they are younger and will be better to eat. Older plants have tough tendrils and stems. They can still be eaten, but you may have to cut off the tougher bits. Kind of like celery that has more stringy tough bits; edible but not ideal.
How to Cook Pea Greens
There are many ways to cook pea greens including sauteing, steaming, and boiling. Basically, whatever you can do with spinach, you can do with pea greens. They are so delicious on their own; pea greens don’t need a lot of treatment.
To Steam Pea Greens
Wash your green and drain. Cut the vines of greens into manageable lengths; about 4 inches. Cut off any stems or tendrils that seem too tough. You can save the trimmings to make vegetable stock if you like. Prepare your steaming apparatus. Once the water is boiling, place the green in the steamer basket and cook for about 5 minutes. The leaves will turn bright green. Remove from heat immediately.
My favourite way to eat pea leaves is just lightly steamed/sauteed, then mixed with a cube of fu-yu. Fu yu has a sort of soy sauce flavour but has more umami to it. If I’m out of fu yu, I’ll just top the greens with a little soy sauce or my Garlic Ginger Oil Dressing (just minced garlic and ginger in a base of roasted sesame oil).
I hope you’ll give pea greens a try if you haven’t before. If you have, let me know what your favourite pea green recipe is in the comments. 🙂