Monday, September 26, 2011

UnRecipe: Three Easy Peasies

The oddball summer we enjoyed/griped about has at least given us one good thing at Casa de Wasabi -- a bumper crop of snow and sugar snap peas. I did a post a little while back about using the greens when I was thinning some of the rows, but for the last couple of months, we've been eating our veggies and then some.

Eat your greens -- we've got a garden full of 'em! - Photo by Wasabi Prime

There's been some weeks where I've been able to collect several pounds' worth of peas. It's more than I know what to do with them, but luckily they last for a while in the fridge before Wilty and Slimy take over. They make for great snacks, dipped in hummus, and when sliced into matchsticks, I like to sprinkle a handful over salads for a nice, fresh crunch. My favorite way to use them is tossing into a stir fry. I know that's kind of a de facto move, but I really do like tossing together whatever vegetables I have on-hand into a hot wok and making an ad hoc spicy finishing sauce. It's fast, but it's also very comforting to me. Especially when along with the peas from our garden, we still get our big ol' box of mystery veggies from our CSA delivery. How's that for roughage?

Mind your Peas and Qs - Photos by Wasabi Prime

When I cook with the peas, I prefer the flat snowpeas, saving the sweeter sugar peas for snacking. Not to be Captain Obvious, but if you've never really noticed the difference between sugar and snow peas, just take a gander above to see how the shorter, more rounded sugar snap peas differ from the flat, wide snow peas. You'll notice the flavor as the season moves along and the sugar snaps have a heightened sweetness. They're one of the easier things to grow in a garden, especially for lazy gardeners like myself -- once you have the pea plants going and preferably climbing upwards on some sort of trellis (I'm super lazy, and just had them scrambling up stakes), they'll flower with these delicate white blooms and before you know it, the plants will be awash with peas. They grow quickly and you'll be surprised how fast your crisper drawer will fill with peas. It'll go from a handful here and there to bagfuls of a pound or two a week, depending on how many plants you've got. I've seen people puree the peas to make a smooth hummus-type dip, but I really like them whole and crunchy. If you throw them into a stir fry as the last ingredient, they'll keep their crispness.

Several dinners, thanks to the backyard produce supply - Photos by Wasabi Prime

As I blah-blah-blah about how great they are in a stir fry, you're probably wondering, what kind of sauce are you making for these mystical magical stir frys, Wasabi? I've mixed things up -- I like using jarred tamarind paste and making a sour, savory Pad Thai-like sauce, mixing a bunch of vegetables with scrambled egg and finishing with crushed peanuts. I also enjoy using black bean paste -- really rich, deep flavor, and you don't need to use a lot of it to mix up a fast sauce that holds up nicely with sliced beef and green onions to go with the peas. The latest bag of peas went into a vegetarian stir fry with a ton of cremini  mushrooms, tofu and chili sauce; kind of a Szechwan inspired stir fry that tasted extra good on one of the oddball rainy, cool days we had in between the heat spells. I'd recommend getting tamarind or black bean paste from your local Asian market -- you can usually find these in the sauces/flavorings aisle. These are ingredients that are probably added into other sauces you've had before, but it's nice to have them at your disposal, and not already mixed into a pre-bottled sauce, as you can control the flavors. I would say you could control the salt, but these are packed full of sodium, so just keep an eye on the labels and you can water them down as needed. I use sodium/sugar-free rice wine vinegar to loosen a sauce as well as add a tart, sharp flavor. Use a corn starch slurry to thicken, since ingredients like fresh vegetables and tofu can give off quite a bit of liquid.

Mushrooms, tofu, bok choy and peas, perfect for Meatless Mondays - Photo by Wasabi Prime

No comments:

Post a Comment

Commentary encouraged. Fresh baked cookies, super-encouraged. (hit the 'post comment' button twice, sometimes it's buggy)