I couldn’t pass up some pea shoots at yesterday’s farmers market, nor the tongue-in-cheek play on the title of Lynn Truss’ 2003 book Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
One of the blessings of cultural diversity in our area has been the appearance of a much broader variety of foods in the restaurants and at the market, both super and farmers. I was puzzled when I first saw pea shoots (the top 4 or 5 inches of pea vine) offered for sale at the farmers market by some of the Hmong growers. I’d seen them offer a variety of vegetables and herbs for sale that I didn’t recognize and often with names that didn’t translate. I’ve tried some of them over the years and some have been pretty tasty and others have been a bit rough for my taste. I’ve usually written the “not so tasty” experiences off to not knowing what to do with the stuff.
But pea shoots? I see them in my garden every year. Once our peas have played out I’ve fed the spent vines to lambs or composted them but I never thought of eating them. Surprise, surprise (not surprisingly) they taste mildly like peas. Who knew? Because I like to add fresh greens to a variety of dishes – pasta, soups, stir fry, etc. it wasn’t much of a leap to figure out something to do with pea shoots. So, they’ve become a “new” vegetable in our pantry – used in Asian stir fry dishes and, like last night, in a curry. Like most greens they collapse considerably when cooked, so they’re not a primary vegetable but rather an addition for texture (the lower stems are pleasantly chewy) and mostly for color to balance out a dish.
Green Mango & Shrimp Curry
1 lg. onion, cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
3 T. grapeseed oil
1/2 T. Thai red curry paste
1 t. Indian curry paste (I use Maharajah Curry from Penzey’s Spices)
1/2 T. coriander, ground
1 t. cumin, ground
1/2 T. turmeric
1 lg. jalapeno chili, diced
2 lg. green mango, peeled, seeded and cut into 1″chunks (choose the hardest mangoes in the market, preferably still cool from the cold storage. Don’t use mangoes that have any softness to them)
1 T. grated fresh peeled ginger
1 # small shrimp, peeled
2 C. pea shoots, top 3 inches, or other tender greens
1 can coconut milk
1 lg. Roma tomato, diced
Saute the onion and garlic in oil until tender but not browned.
Add curry paste, curry powder, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chili and saute briefly to take away the rawness of the spices.
Add mango, shrimp, ginger, pea shoots and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and cook until the shrimp turn pink, about 7 minutes.
Add the Roma tomato and simmer until it heats through, about 2 minutes.
Serve over sticky (short-grained) rice.