I have 2 favorites to share with you today. First, this photo is one of my favorites in The Chinese Kitchen Garden. If you've been enjoying my posts about Asian vegetables, you'll really like my book, which is jam-packed with information about growing and cooking Chinese vegetables. It's also filled with gorgeous photos by Sarah Culver. I love this moody one with the basket of snow pea shoots on a plank over the creek that flows into my father's pond.
The second favorite to share is that my mom's favorite vegetable is "dau miu", or snow pea shoots. These are the delicate top several inches of pea plants, and the greens are tender and so good lightly stir fried with just some garlic. It's a delicious side dish. Recently, I've seen pea shoots grown as microgreens and atop dishes or salads at restaurants. Though they can be found at Asian supermarkets (at a steep price for greens), I've not yet seen them anywhere else. Of course, if you grow your own, you can have fresh shoots when you want them. Pea shoots wilt quickly, so fresh from your own garden is the best and most economical way to go!
Cilantro is probably my favorite smell in the world. Yes, I could probably happily clutch this jar of cilantro to my side all day long. Cilantro is an easy to grow herb - though it generally does better during the cooler months. It's possible to keep sowing cilantro for use throughout the year, just find a spot that has some shade so it can stay lush and fresh during the hottest summer months. Right under the asparagus, where tall ferns tend to cast some shade, is the best spot in my garden. What are your tips for growing cilantro?
Snow peas are always good and I've just realized why. While we put foods like corn, bamboo shoots, spring peas, and water chestnuts into cans, ruining the texture, flavor, and color, and essentially everything about the vegetable (if you've had peas straight from the garden and compare that to mushy yellow-green peas from a can, you know what I mean...), I've never seen a canned snow pea. Actually, the only places I've ever seen snow peas (aside from my own garden), are at our farmer's market or frozen in a "stir fry vegetables" mix at the supermarket.
Snow peas are not only easy-to-grow, but they're tasty, go with everything, and only require a few minutes of cooking to get to that tender-but-still-crisp texture. They're also great raw, either thrown in a salad whole or julienned. Plant them yourself for one of the best garden vegetables you can grow!
Garlic chives are among the easiest, worry-free, perennial plants to grow. In Chinese cuisine, it's eaten more like a vegetable than an herb. In the spring, the first couple flushes of garlic chives are mild and tender. In the photo, you see yellow garlic chives. Yellow chives (blanched by being deprived of light), are super tender. They're great raw or cooked briefly in any dish you want to impart a subtle garlic flavor to.
I'm Wendy Kiang-Spray, gardener, home cook, and author of The Chinese Kitchen Garden. Learn more about the book here. Enjoy the blog and be sure to like The Chinese Kitchen Garden Facebook page for notifications when there are new posts.