Snow peas deserve light hand when stir-frying

I nearly cheered when I saw plenty of peas at today’s Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market in Medford. That’s because the 90-degree weekend temperatures gave me reason to worry that local peas would be toast just a week after I wrapped up Wednesday’s A la Carte story on fresh peas.

Yep, if you didn’t know, the Mail Tribune’s food section is completed almost a week ahead of time. So that can put us in a bit of a pickle if weather or other factors have an adverse effect on local produce or other topics we may be covering.

But peas are still around for the picking, apparently. I don’t have any more pea recipes kicking around, preferring to commit them all to Wednesday’s paper. But I will share one more idea and, like some of the best, it’s one of the simplest.

To my taste buds, there’s almost nothing more delicious than lightly stir-fried snow peas. I say lightly because they should still retain a bit of crunch. And that’s why locally grown or your own garden peas are superior. The ones to be found in grocery stores (even when its the Northern Hemisphere’s season) have already gone flaccid.

I like enough oil in the pan and enough heat to freckle the pods a bit with brown spots. But make sure to take them out before stir-frying any other ingredients. I didn’t do that for the summer’s first stir-fry with julienned carrots, garden-grown garlic and mushrooms and watched my peas go flat. But we still ate them with sauteed scallops and steamed rice.

I vowed I wouldn’t let that happen to my last little batch picked before the weekend heat. They and the leftover rice saved me from a trip to the grocery store, after all. Both begged to be reincarnated as fried rice.

I stir-fried a handful of stringed-and-stemmed peas for just a few minutes, removed them from the pan and added two sliced green onions picked straight from the garden. Once those wilted, I added about a cup of cold, leftover rice and laid a slice of prosciutto over the top to wilt it and infuse some salt into the dish.

After removing the prosciutto, I poured in two eggs beaten with a teaspoon each of sesame oil and tamari sauce and 1/2 teaspoon siracha sauce. If you like big chunks of egg like I do, let them start to set up a bit before stirring. Once the eggs cooked through and were distributed through the rice, I added back the peas and sliced prosciutto. This made an ample portion for one person.

While fried rice almost certainly was invented to use up leftovers like this dish, the concept can get pretty elaborate. This blog previously posted some classic recipes, and I ran across another pretty unique one last week courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.

For fried rice that tastes like more than just leftover meat, veggies and rice stirred together, it’s important to build flavors at numerous points by deglazing the pan and seasoning the eggs. This recipe relies on pan drippings and distinctive jerk spices for intense flavor.

Chinese-Jamaican Jerk-Chicken Fried Rice

1 1⁄2 cups chopped green onions, divided

1 tablespoon roughly chopped garlic

2 tablespoons ketchup

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons each: ground allspice, brown sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce, divided

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon peanut or vegetable oil, divided

1⁄2 teaspoon each: ground cinnamon, black pepper, red pepper flakes, ground red pepper

2 chicken legs with thighs, about 13⁄4 pounds

1⁄3 cup each: chopped onions, diced carrots

4 cups cold, cooked rice

To make marinade, combine 1 cup of the green onions and the garlic in a food processor. Pulse until just combined. Add the ketchup, lime juice and vinegar; process until almost smooth, 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, the thyme, allspice, sugar, 1 teaspoon of the dark soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the oil, the cinnamon, black pepper, red pepper flakes and ground red pepper. Pulse until well-combined.

Make several 1-inch slits on both sides of the chicken legs. Put chicken legs in a large, shallow bowl; coat with 1⁄4 cup jerk marinade. (Reserve remaining marinade and keep refrigerated for another use.) Cover chicken; refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Remove chicken from refrigerator 30 minutes before roasting.

Heat oven to 425 F. Place chicken skin-side up in a foil-lined roasting pan. Roast until chicken is golden-brown and measures 165 F on a meat thermometer, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board, reserving pan drippings. Allow chicken to rest 10 minutes; remove meat from bones. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and dark soy sauce in a small bowl.

Heat a large wok over high heat; swirl in remaining 2 tablespoons oil; add the onions and carrots. Stir-fry until onions begin to wilt, 30 seconds. Add the rice; stir-fry, breaking up rice with a spatula until heated through, 2 minutes. Swirl in soy-sauce mixture and stir-fry until all rice grains are evenly colored, 1 minute. Stir in 1⁄2 cup green onions, pan drippings and chicken; stir-fry until just combined, 10 seconds.

Makes 4 servings.


— Recipe adapted by the Chicago Tribune from “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge,” by Grace Young.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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