November 10, 2014

Stir Fry Chinese Pea Shoots 炒豆苗

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This classic Chinese vegetable dish is one of those things that is really, really simple to make and yet unforgettable in all its comforting yumminess.  I first had Stir Fry Chinese Pea Shoots long ago in a little hotel restaurant in Beijing on my first ever trip to China.  

This was rather long ago, when China was not the aggressive China of today, a much more relaxed and (for me at least) a much more interesting China.  I remember clearly that this humble little stir fry vegetable dish which my cousin ordered, though nothing special to look at, was a revelation to me.  

What was this vegetable, so tender, distinctive and tasty, I wondered while stuffing my face full of greens.  The really cool thing about this classic vegetable dish is that ever since that first tasting, every time I have happened to have this Stir Fry Chinese Pea Shoots, or 炒豆苗, it is always cooked the exactly the same perfect way!

Stir Fry, Chinese, Pea Shoots, pea tips, dou maio,  pea vines, pea shoots, 炒, 豆苗, recipe, vegetable

Why is this dish always prepared the same way, you may ask?  It is because the classic way of preparing Stir Fry Chinese Pea Shoots is so perfect that one cannot do better!  Why mess with perfection, am I right?  

A touch of garlic, a sprinkle of salt, maybe a splash of wine and soy and a quick stir in the wok is all that these tender pea shoots need.  Tender, with a sweet  pea-y, slightly grassy and slightly nutty taste.  A surprisingly addictive vegetable.

Stir Fry, Chinese, Pea Shoots, pea tips, dou maio,  pea vines, pea shoots, 炒, 豆苗, recipe, vegetable

As I've noted before, one of the things that going to the wet market (or farmer's market) has allowed me to understand better is Mother Nature's seasons as they pass.  Vegetables and fruits appear in the market vendors stalls  in their preordained season of ripe peak goodness.  
This year ever since the weather's been getting cooler we have been longing for these delicate pea sprouts.  And sure enough, one day at the wet market I spotted some tender little shoots piled carelessly into a styrofoam half box.  Yippee!  It's the time of the year for Stir Fry Chinese Pea Sprouts!

Stir Fry, Chinese, Pea Shoots, pea tips, dou maio,  pea vines, pea shoots, 炒, 豆苗, recipe, vegetable

The only thing that we changed up this time is that we used chicken fat to stir fry with.  Well, actually that's not right, the real classic recipe for Stir Fry Chinese Pea Shoots does actually use chicken fat according to my 老公.  We had saved up some rendered chicken fat from cooking our house favorite Three Cups Four Flavors Chicken  三杯四味雞 (local fresh chicken here has a lot of fat in it) and decided to use it for this vegetable dish.   

I was super excited about this because (aside from being a food nerd) I had long salivated over certain delectable dishes made with chicken fat as delectably detailed in one of my favorite novels of all time, The Dream of the Red Chamber.   So...drumroll, please...the chicken fat as cooking oil verdict?  Absolutely yummilicious!  You know how chicken broth/soup is soooo good?  Well chicken fat is probably the main reason why!  Try it and let us know what you think!
Stir Fry Chinese Pea Shoots Recipe炒豆苗
(Prep time: 2 mins  Cook time: 3 mins)


  • 3/4 lb Chinese Pea Shoots 豆苗, 340g
  • 2 1/2 tbsp chicken fat oil (or lard or peanut oil)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice wine


Wash Chinese Pea Shoots and drain water off.  Smash garlic cloves and then mince.

Heat wok over medium high.  When wok is hot add your oil and then the minced garlic.  Stir a few times until garlic just turning golden and then add the pea shoots, being careful of splattering oil.  (It's best to add a huge bunch of leaves in all at one time so that the oil is covered and can't splatter outside the wok.)  Stir the pea shoots until oil is evenly distributed.  

Add the salt, sugar and rice wine and stir fry for half a minute. Turn heat to low heat and let cook cover for another half minute to minute or until all the leaves are wilted.  That's all of it, enjoy!



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