This easy recipe delivers snow peas with the perfect texture and can quickly become your favorite way to prepare the side dish.
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Read on for useful tips and how-to pictures and video (2 mins)
About This Snow Peas Recipe
While snow peas are usually exalted for their many health benefits and high nutritional value their culinary merits should not be overlooked. They are incredibly delicious when prepared correctly – the thin flat pod walls and the peas inside have a mild, sweetish taste which welcomes a wide range of savory, spicy and acidic flavors.
Snow peas are an eat-all-pea, from the French term pois mangetout. In our opinion the best way to prepare them is on the stove top.
We use a combination technique known as steam frying. Steam frying is essentially a short sear followed by a couple of minutes of steaming in the skillet. Think of it as an elevated saute which creates a lot of flavor. The surface of the peas gets nicely caramelized while the flesh attains the perfect texture – tender but with plenty of crunch.
Ingredients for This Steam Fried Snow Peas Recipe
- Fresh snow peas. For best results look for crisp, green pods of medium-size. The larger the pods the more fibrous they are.
- Cooking oil. We often use an olive oil blend fashioned for sauteing because of its high burning point. Any similar cooking oil will work. If you use peanut oil or a flavored one such as chili or sesame oil the snow peas will take on its flavors.
- Garlic. Completely optional, but a couple of minced garlic cloves add a lot of compatible flavor.
- Water. A small amount of water we add to the hot skillet creates the steam that promptly cooks the pods through and brings out their color.
- Kosher salt, black pepper and other spices. Add to taste, towards the end of the cooking process. You may skip seasoning the pods altogether if you plan on tossing them in a strongly flavored sauce right before you serve them.
How to Trim Snow Peas
It is essential to prepare the snow peas for cooking. Their single short coming is represented by the stringy fibers that run along the edges of the two sides of each pod. Fortunately removing the tough string happens to be an easy task that goes pretty quickly.
- Trim ends. Use a comfortable, small sharp knife to gently cut into the end tips to trim.
- Pull string. As you trim the end you will also get a hold of the string that runs along the length of the pod – simply pull it down to remove.
- Halve (optional). You can diagonally slice across the middle of longer pods to create uniform pieces for cooking.
NOTE: Smaller and younger pods generally have thinner walls and thinner fibrous string – for some of them pulling the string may only be necessary on one side or not at all.
How to Cook Snow Peas on Stove Top
While you can steam or saute the snow peas, just like you would sugar snap peas or green beans, our combination method is both easier and delivers more flavor with a better overall texture.
- Heat pan. Place a skillet over a medium-high stove and heat for 2-3 minutes. If you have a wok, you can use it.
- Sear. Add cooking oil, then add the trimmed snow peas and stir to coat in oil. Let sear for a couple of minutes, stirring as needed to avoid burning. Add minced garlic (if using), stir again and let become fragrant.
- Steam. Add the water, move the snow peas around again and let them steam.
- Season. Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir again and as soon as most of the water has evaporated remove the skillet from the heat.
Flavor Variations for Skillet Snow Peas
Frequently we cook the snow peas with the minced garlic and then toss them in a tablespoon of a flavorful condiments such as ginger chili oil (picture above).
Other flavor ideas include
- sweet chili garlic sauce or sriracha sauce
- fermented black bean paste
- toasted sesame seeds and soy sauce (great for a snack)
- soy sauce reduction
- Parmesan and red pepper flakes
TIP: If you are planning to use a salty sauce go easy on the salt and pepper or skip them all together. Simply season to taste.
Chicken with Snow Peas Skillet
- To prepare this quick type of main dish follow these easy steps.
- First cut raw chicken breast into thin, bite-sized strips.
- Season it with salt and pepper to taste and dust it with a bit of corn starch to help it form a very thin crust. Heat a non-stick skillet over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil or coconut oil.
- Stir fry the chicken strips, while constantly moving them around the skillet as they sizzle.
- Once cooked through (3-5 minutes depending on how thin), set aside. Cook the snow peas as described above. Add to the cooked chicken strips and toss in your sauce of choice (if desired).
Snow Peas vs Snap Peas
You can substitute sugar snap peas in this recipe.
Both pea varieties are members of the legume family with delicious edible pods. They are available year-round but their peak season is spring through early summer.
Snow peas have flatter pods with small peas while sugar snaps are more rounded and their peas are fuller.
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- 10 oz fresh snow peas
- 1 1/2 tbsp cooking oil
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tbsp water
- salt and pepper to taste
- To prepare the snow peas rinse them well then trim the tips and remove the fibrous strings that run alongside the edges of the two sides of each pod. Use a small sharp knife to gently cut into the flesh just under each tip, then pull down to remove the string. If needed diagonally cut larger pods across the middle to make them smaller and easier to cook.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 2-3 minutes. Add the olive oil and the trimmed pods. Move them around to coat in oil and let them sear for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid excessive browning.
- Add the minced garlic (if using), stir again and let become fragrant. About 30-60 seconds.
- Add the water and stir to move the snow pea pods around. Let the water evaporate and steam the pods, cooking them through. About 2-3 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste or toss with a tablespoon of your favorite Asian sauce after you remove from the heat.*
*Some ideas to toss the cooked pods in include chili oil, sweet chili garlic sauce, or sriracha sauce, fermented black bean paste, toasted sesame seeds and soy sauce, soy sauce reduction.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 159Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 155mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 5g