Monday, July 2, 2012

Substitutes yields satisfying side dish for post-season stir fry

Sugar snap peas are for me what the sight of a robin is to many people: an assurance that spring is well on its way. Their crisp sweetness, devoured straight from market tubs before they can be transferred to a proper bowl, fully earns their sunny, promising name.
Variation on Grace Young's Stir-Fried Sugar Snap Peas
with Shitake Mushrooms, served with panko-crusted trout.

I happily ate my share in those early weeks and didn't entirely notice their absence as other early summer vegetables followed. So it was with some sadness that, while on a belated market run for last week's Wok Wednedsays post about Grace Young's Stir-Fried Sugar Snap Peas With Shitake Mushrooms, I found not a single sugar snap pea.

The basket that normally is full of plump shitakes also was bare - but on another shelf I spiked a package of maitakes, otherwise knows as Hens of the Wood. Assuming commonality of name communicated a reasonable (if perhaps distant) culinary kinship, I bought them. While clearly different varieties, a quick online search was reassuring in that both reportedly "boost immune function, support cardiovascular health, and show promise in lowering the risk of - or treating - cancer." So far, so good.

Tim likewise had no luck with sugar snap peas at the farmer's market, but he did bring home a bag of just-picked local green beans. Trusting the heat of my wok to make it all work, and imaging Grace Young's encouraging voice, I forged on to prepare a heavily tweaked version of the recipe from her James Beard award-winning Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.

Maitakes are better known as Hen of the Woods.
Since the direction call for light stir-frying of the snaps, and my green beans were a bit tough, I gave them a quick steam bath in the microwave with the clinging rinse water. Conversely, the maitakes were more tender and did not absorb all of the savory stock as described. As such, I opted to not add the last spoonful of stock and let the green beans soak up the remaining mushroomy broth.

To my relief, the end result was a reasonable rendition of the image featured in her book - which is saying a lot since most of the ingredients were substitutions. The beans retained an appealing crispness and the ginger-glazed mushrooms surrendered to drape them luxuiously. 

I'll certainly make this variant again over the course of the summer, but join me in marking the calendar now to take even better advantage of next year's spring arrival of sugar snaps.

1 comment:

  1. Your substitutions look delicious. I too missed the local sugar snap season (I'm in Virginia Beach) so I used imported, which I don't usually like to do. next time, I'll use the green beans.