Pea shoots are simply the young leaves of the pea plant. But that description doesn't do Snow Pea Shoots justice. The leaves are bright green and succulent, with accompanying tendrils that curl up like wavy Mohawks and have a subtle sugary pea flavour that is delicious both raw and cooked.
Snow Pea shoots are harvested in just 2 to 4 weeks when the leaves are tender, young and literally bursting with a distinctive pea flavour. They have a sweet crispness that goes beautifully with just about anything. Perfect as a garnish, with a salad or use as an accent with meats, pastas, or beans.
The seeds can simply be grown as sprouts in a tray or sprouter, or can be grown to microleaf stage, harvested when the pea sprouts are about 10 to 15cm (4 to 6in).
In Oriental cuisine, pea leaves are considered a delicacy and pea sprouts are commonly used in stir-fries.
Often known as Dou Miao, they are considered a delicacy primarily because they are not always available. Even in countries like Hong Kong they are only available in winter months from December to February.
To grow Snow Pea shoots to Microleaf stage:
Microleaf Peas can be grown in pretty much any type of container, although flat trays are easiest to harvest from. Make sure there are holes in the base, otherwise just punch some holes in the bottom for drainage.
Add an inch or two of compost; you're only after the shoots so you don't need the compost to be very deep. Press the compost to firm it and moisten thoroughly by standing the container in water, then drain.
Scatter pea seeds over the surface, leaving an inch or two between seeds then lightly cover them with some more compost.
Keep the plants watered, but do so gently - don't get carried away otherwise the peas will float to the top. Place the container outdoors or on a sunny window sill. Check them each day and water whenever the soil looks dry. If the weather is hot move them into a shadier spot so they don't wilt.
Once the leaves are an inch or two high you can start harvesting. Just head outside with your scissors whenever you want a salad.
For Microleaf sprouts, harvest when the pea sprouts are about 10 to 15cm (4 to 6in), If you cut 3 to 4cm (1 to 1½ in) off the ground the plant will re-sprout.
If the bottom leaves on the shoots are tough, you can trim the shoots by pinch off the tender tops (keep the tops, discard the bottoms). There are usually two and sometimes three tender tops for each “stem” so be sure you get all of the good tips.
Wash the shoots thoroughly in water and drain, shaking out as much excess water as possible.
The most popular use of these sprouting seeds is a simple stir-fry. This is very easy to do, and it brings out the delicate flavour of the snow pea sprouts. The shoots cook very quickly, a few minutes and you’re done. As soon as they begin to wilt (in around 30 seconds) sprinkle some salt over the greens and serve them right away as they are best eaten hot.
Microleaf pea shoots can be used raw, in salads or smoothies. They can be incorporated into omelettes or frittatas, or included in soups as you would spinach or chard. Stuff inside chicken breasts or flank steak with lemon zest and garlic or simply mix with pastas.
How to grow Snow Pea Sprouting Seeds:
Seeds are just plants waiting to happen; dry they are in a dormant state and only need water and light to become a living entity. Seeds sprout fastest in a warm light airy place, out of direct sunlight, with an ambient temperature of 18 to 22°C (65 to 72°F), which is pretty much the condition of most kitchens. All you need is a large glass jar with a screw top lid and water.
You can use a purpose made sprouter, there are many inexpensive types available, or you can make your own by piercing the lid of a wide mouth jar to make drainage holes or securing a square of muslin over the top of the jar with an elastic band. Many of the sprouts can simply be grown on cotton wool or kitchen towel, remember when you were a child - one egg box, filled with cotton wool and - bingo! - mustard and cress was yours within ten days.
Sprouting the Seeds:
Measure out 3 to 4 tablespoons of seeds, about half a cup. Rinse your seeds and place into a bowl or into your sprouter. Add 2 to 3 times as much cool (18°C / 60°F) water. Mix seeds to assure even water contact and soak for 6-12 hours. Empty the seeds into your sprouter (if necessary) and drain off the soak water, then rinse again and drain thoroughly. Set your sprouter anywhere out of direct sunlight and at room temperature (21°C / 70°F is optimal) between rinses. Rinse and drain thoroughly every 8 to 12 hours .
Alliums take a long time to germinate. You should see some sprouting action in between 4 and 7 days. Don't give up, they just take time
You can help your crop by "breaking up" your sprouts when they clump up - around day 5 to 10 and daily thereafter. When water isn't enough, break the clump of sprouts up using a fork or your fingers. You should never be afraid of touching your sprouts. They are much stronger then they appear - just be reasonably gentle.
On the 4th day if you've been keeping them away from light, move them into some light. Avoid direct sun as it can cook your sprouts. Indirect sunlight is best, but you will be amazed at how little light sprouts require to green up. Continue to rinse and drain every 8 to 12 hours. This is where your sprouts do their growing. Your sprouts will be done during day 5 or 6.The majority will have open leaves which will be green if you exposed them to light.
Before your final rinse remove the seed hulls. Transfer the sprouts to a big (3 to 4 times the volume of your sprouter) pot or bowl, fill with cool water, loosen the sprout mass and agitate with your hand. Skim the hulls off the surface. Return the sprouts to your sprouter for the final rinse then drain very thoroughly to let the sprouts dry a little. Your sprouts are done 8 to 12 hours after your final rinse.
Your sprouts will be done between day 10 and 15. The majority of sprouts will have long thin micro-scallions, which will be green if you exposed them to light. You can eat them at any length but if you let them get to an inch or more the seed itself will be more tender.
After the de-hulling and the final rinse, drain very thoroughly and let the sprouts dry a little. By minimizing the surface moisture of the sprouts they store much better in refrigeration, so either let them sit for 8-12 hours or use a salad spinner to dry the sprouts after their final rinse and skip the final 8-12 hour wait, instead going directly to refrigeration.
Transfer the sprout crop to a plastic bag or the sealed container of your choice.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100 grams Average Seed Count 400 Seeds Seeds per gram approc 400 seeds / gram Common Name Microleaf or Miniveg Other Common Names Sprouting seeds Family Leguminosae Genus Pisum Species sativum Cultivar macrocarpon group Synonym Snow Pea Hardiness Hardy Annual Time to Harvest Pea Sprouts 2 to 4 days: Microleaf stage 2 to 4 weeks.