Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sugar Snap Peas

Dinner guests were recently surprised when I served them 'peas in a pod', which as I explained wasn't exactly accurate.  These were sugar snap peas and differred from both pea pods and English peas.  I normally wouldn't write about something rather simple like this, but I figured if they were unaware of how wonderful the sugar snap pea could be, so might others.


Before we get to cooking them, let's differentiate the produce so you purchase the correct item at the market.  The sugar snap pea has an an edible pod which, while looking similar to a garden or English pea is less fibrous and edible when young.  You wouldn't want to try and eat an English pea pod.  However, like sugar snap peas, pea pods are in fact edible and often used in salads and Asian cuisine.  But unlike the sugar snap variety, their pods contain no peas. 

Good sugar snap peas can be hard to find.  I hate to purchase them when they have then prepackaged.  They are technically 'fresh' (because they have never been frozen) but what is in that package usually is pretty old.  I much prefer to shop where they will let you pick through the sugar snap peas selecting your own tender, green peas much as you would if you selecting fresh green beans. Check your country of origin as some are shipped in from China and I would avoid those.  If all you can find is prepacked or frozen, you may want to select another side dish.

Sugar snap peas with halibut.
Sugar snap peas are slightly sweet and nicely tender.  Simply pull off the little strings at the end, wash and they are ready to prepare.  My favorite method of preparation is to give them a stir fry in a little bit of hot oil.  Sometimes I add some chopped fresh garlic.  Finish with a bit of salt and pepper and in just a few minutes, your delicious side dish is ready for your meal.

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