Snow peas, with hints of pork and brevity

Before we had chickens, we had a garden.  And from the first season, our garden grew peas. Like sweet corn, peas start turning starchy the moment they’re picked, so the freshest are always the finest. (Steve, of course, would simply stand in the garden and eat peas off the vine. But Michelle holds herself to higher standards and insisted he actually bring them to the kitchen.) After their first lovely flower, the tangled pea vines would produce sweet crunchy pods for just a while, stopping as the summer’s heat increased.

Ravaged by chickens, our garden and its pea trellises are gone. We now rely on our local farmers and so, only once or twice a year, we turn to Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Seductions of Rice for this simple stir-fry. It only has a few ingredients–really just some aromatics and “umami” enhancers for the real star, a pile of fresh pea pods. It’s a quick, tasty way to enjoy pea season.  Because around here, peas are gone before you know it.


(adapted from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Seductions of Rice) (serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as part of a larger meal)

  • ½ lb. snow peas and/or sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 TB Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • ¼ lb. ground pork
  • 1 TB peanut or other neutral oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 scallions cut into ½” lengths
  • 1 garlic scape, chopped (optional)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • 2/3 c. chicken stock or water
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch

Mix the wine or sherry and soy sauce in a small bowl, then mix in the ground pork.  Let the pork marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Put the peas into the boiling water, removing from heat and then quickly draining into a colander just as the water returns to a boil.  Shock the peas with cold or ice water to stop their cooking. Set aside.

Mix together salt, sugar, chicken stock and cornstarch in a bowl.  Set by the stove.

Heat a wok and add the oil. When it’s hot, add the garlic, scallions and optional garlic scapes, stir-frying for about 30 seconds. Add the pork, with its marinade, and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, tossing until the pork has changed color. Add the peas and stir-fry for about 30 seconds more.  Then pour in the stock mix.  Cook for a minute or two, tossing.  Serve immediately over steamed white rice.


  1. Sounds wonderful. I love anything that promises umami. I do long for English peas, though, of the sort that grew so prolifically in my parents’ gardens, shelled out as soon as picked, and cooked with the smallest possible amount of liquid, plus a bit of cream, or bacon, or finely chopped onion. My parents grew enough peas for us to cycle through all those variations more than once each season. I have had no luck growing peas, and don’t really have enough room in any case, and our farmers at the Market are too smart to fool with such a touchy vegetable. So, a longing. Snow peas and sugar snaps sort of slake it. I look forward to trying this.

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