I was at a trade show in San Diego this weekend, and on my way home I stopped in Westminster - also known as Little Saigon - to find some lunch. I ate a passable roast pork banh mi sandwich at a strip mall Vietnamese bakery, and then I wandered into the Vietnamese supermarket next door. Just to see what it was like, you understand.
Two hours later, out I came with a few bags of groceries that are impossible to find in my neighborhood. Artichoke leaf tea, which my husband finds more stimulating than chocolate. Knobs of palm sugar, the evaporated sap of the date palm tree, with a complex, dusty-sweet finish. And pea shoots, which normally I think of as a spring vegetable. Apparently they're growing somewhere in southern California at the moment, because the store had a huge bin of them.
Sometimes I simmer the pea shoots in stock for a simple, cleansing green soup, which my 12-year-old gourmand likes to take in his lunchbox ("Please, Mom, I want to drink cold green stuff out of a jar!"). But the pea shoots retain more of their pea-ness when they're eaten raw, as in this simple salad. Dress it lightly, sprinkle it with toasted sesame seeds, and pretend it's spring.
Salad with pea shoots and sesame seeds
An Asian-style salad that lets pea shoots be themselves.
- 2 Tbsp raw sesame seeds
- 1/2 pound pea shoots, washed and spun dry
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp grapeseed oil
- 1/2 tsp honey or agave nectar
- salt and ground white pepper to taste
In a small, dry nonstick skillet, toast the sesame seeds over medium-low heat, shaking the pan often. Watch the seeds carefully to prevent burning. When the seeds are starting to color and you can smell them, pour them into a small bowl and let them cool.Put the washed and dried pea shoots in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, grapeseed oil, honey or agave, and salt and white pepper. Taste the dressing and adjust - I always want more acid, but everyone's palate is different.Pour the dressing and the sesame seeds over the pea shoots and toss quickly. Serve immediately.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 large or 4 small servings