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Sep 18, 2007 01:23 PM

Pea pod stems ?

I see these mentioned usually at chinatown restaurants. I eat more chinese food then most yet have never had a dish called this. Im quite familiar with normal chinese pea pods, but whats with the "stems" is this something else? I google the term and all that comes up are articles in reference to boston restaurants, is this a massachusetts term? Anyone have a photo? Whats the best place to try them?

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  1. I believe they're the same thing as pea tendrils. I always get mine from Zoe's in Somerville, stir-fried with garlic and oil.

    3 Replies
    1. re: finlero

      I've heard them called pea shoots in addition to pea tendrils and peapod stems. I buy bags at Super 88, and stir-fry them with sliced garlic, oil, and also add a splash of Shaoxing rice wine. Peach Farm and most other Chinatown restaurants usually have them on the menu.

        1. re: Rubee

          Funny, I first encountered them @ Peach Farm. I grabbed the waiter after he passed our table w/some, and asked, "What was that?" They're great; almost smoky when I had them @ Peach Farm. Have made them lots at home now too. Plenty available at local farmers markets in season.

    2. Stems, tendrils, shoots, whatever. Apparently what you want to eat is actually the stems and tender leaves - the tendrils themselves are hair-thin but can be stringy and hard to eat, and are often trimmed. See this thread from a few weeks back:

      BFP and I had a lovely dish of them in Toronto about a week ago, but I don't remember which name was used.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Allstonian

        Ahhh ok so they are leaves not pea pods at all as i was thinking. There a a couple types of greens served at dimsum on Sundays that we usually get but i typically dont eat many greens. will have to try them some time

      2. Definitely try them. They're sweet and yummy.

        1. Wanted to revive this thread to give a nod to the sauteed peapod stems I recently tried at Qingdao Garden; best I've had in the city to date. In addition to the standard garlic and oil, they add something that gives a slight burnt-caramel-y sweetness.

          The rest of the Northern-style Chinese menu is pretty terrific as well. It's funny; I tried this place almost 10 years ago, before I was much of a chowhound, and ordered a horrible selection of deep-fried American nastiness. Only recently did I rediscover it (yes, thanks to this site) and realize that it was one of the best Northern-style Chinese restaurants in Boston.

          13 Replies
          1. re: finlero

            Much agree with you on the Qingdao Garden evaluation (I think the flavor you are tasting in the Pea Tendrils is a slosh of Shanxi vinegar-nrthern Chinese brown vinegar, distinct from southern Chinese Jin jiang vinegar). You may also want to try Wang's Fast Food, they also serve some very tasty Northern Chinese dishes.

            1. re: qianning

              Oh yes, I know and like Wang's. It's a close call, but I'm a bit partial to Qingdao, if for no other reason than the friendliness of the people who work there. But they're both first-rate chow finds.

            2. re: finlero

              The Chinese term for the delicate pea-pod stems I think you are discussing is xiao3 dou4 miao2. Qingdao does a wonderful version, as does Zoe's. But I think the best are from Wang's in Somerville, which is, overall, a terrific Northern-style Chinese restaurant as well. They don't always have them available, but more often than not you can get them there.

              1. re: lipoff

                I never have dishes at Wang's (must reform!), as I am alwas too tempted by the dumplings, especially when they have "Hui Xiang" (is it fennel or is it dill?)dumplings.

                Do you have any other recc's from their menu?

                1. re: qianning

                  Sure, there are a lot of excellent dishes at Wang's!

                  Even before mentioning their wonderful dumplings, I should say that the "scallion pancake" (cong1 you2 bing3) is the best I've ever had, anywhere, when it's really good there. Obviously the dumplings are excellent as well.

                  The "sweet and sour turnip" (xiao3 luo2 bo si1) is my favorite cold dish (liang2 cai4) there, but I also like the "roast beef in soy sauce" (lu3 niu2 rou4), "cucumber in garlic sauce" (liang2 ban4 huang2 gua), and the "preserved egg with tofu" (pi2 dan4 dou4 fu) are also excellent.

                  Among noodle soups, the "roast beef soup noodle" (wu3 xiang1 niu2 rou4 mian4) and "eight spices noodle" (ba1 bao3 la4 jiang4 mian4) are excellent.

                  Even though both of these appear on the "Americanized appetizer page" they are excellent: "beef teriyaki" (niu2 chuar4) and "sesame cold noodles" (liang2 mian4).

                  Among the more traditional cooked dishes my favorite is definitely the "szechuan style bone-in chicken" (Chuan1 wei4 la4 zi ji1). Among pork dishes the consensus among my dining companions seems to be that "chestnut with fatty pork" (ban3 li4 shao1 wu3 hua1 rou4), "spareribs with spices salt and pepper" (jiao1 yan2 pai2 gu3), are all excellent "northern style pork sparerib" (Shan1 Dong1 shou3 zhua1 gu4) and probably in that order.

                  I also like the "spicy bone-in chicken with brown sauce" (jia1 chang2 chao3 nen4 ji1), which is a very tender chicken dish, but some don't seem to like this. The "bitter melon with beef in black bean sauce" (dou4 chi3 ku3 gua1 niu2 rou4 si1) is great if you like the somewhat unusual taste of bitter melon (balsam pear).

                  Among vegetables, in addition to the terrific "pea pod stems" (qing4 chao3 dou4 miao2), the "stir fry cucumber with scrambled egg" (huang2 gua chao3 dan4) is great, and surprisingly, the unadorned "steamed mixed vegetables" (shiu3 zhu1 su4 cai4) are terrific. I actually think the latter are a great example of why Wang's is so good. Even a simple dish like steamed vegetables turns into something unusually good here.

                  The only thing I would avoid at wang's are the fishes, which I haven't enjoyed. I admit that we've only tried fish at Wang's maybe two or three times, but have been disappointed each time. For excellent Chinese fish, I'd recommend Fuloon or Mulan. The only other thing that I didn't enjoy at Wang's was the Singapore rice sticks.

                  1. re: lipoff

                    some great suggestions, thank you!

              2. re: finlero

                I was a little miffed with Qing Dao the other night - ordered sauteed pea pod stems - pretty darn sure what I received was sauteed spinach - BUT was charged the higher price for pea pod stems. I could be wrong, but let me put it this way - I have had something VERY different on past occasions when ordering stems, which look like slivers, i.e., stems vs. leaves in this case. I even think I saw the hostess do a double take when adding up my take-out bill. I order there a lot so that sort of bugs me if she knew there was a substitution. I may say something next time - could have been an honest mistake.

                Rest of the meal was excellent - pleasant surprise was the orange beef, came with lots of broccoli and many large pieces of caramelized/crisped orange rind that gave it a real bittersweet Three delight dumplings with shrimp were new type that are my favorite so far. Singapore rice noodle yummy per usual. Steamed chicken and mixed vegetables from the "healthy" menu was, as I feared, completely without sauce/flavor. Sitting in fridge - will have to jazz up with black bean sauce, etc., but it was a decent serving for $5.

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  hmmm, sauteed pea pod stems should look somthing like this:
                  Have you had them at Qing Dao before or someplace else?

                  1. re: qianning

                    Thank you so much - here is another photo.


                    So I take back everything I said, if these are in fact pea pod stems. Not spinach as the pictures bear out. This IS what I received from Qing Dao. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

                    However, on another occasion, I got something that was almost like threads of green (almost like seaweed salad thinness) that were excellent, which I THOUGHT were pea pod stems. (You know, they look like...stems.


                    Anyway, I still don't know what those were.

                      1. re: ScubaSteve

                        I think those were tendrils. Ugh, I sound like a doofus today, but I think Russo's labels what looks like the picture above as "pea tendrils." So I am blaming them. ;)

                        1. re: ScubaSteve

                          the chinese have a whole sub-set of vegetables called "ya-miao-cai" which are basically the forced sprouts and seedlings from various bean/peas/legumes/allums/&etc which become very difficult to translate well. Often even on Chinese menus (i.e. written in Chinese) it can be a little vague. My guess based on Bob's description is that the veg he had had previously (not at Qingdao Garden) looked something like this:
                 (before being sauteed, couldn't find a picture of them already cooked
                          )wish I could tell you whcih bean/legume it is sprouted from, but i don't know.
                          When these veggies appear on English Language menus in Chinese restaurants the translation is often very ad hoc--so restaurant A's "pea shoots" are the same as restaurant B's "pea tendrils", but restaurant C's "pea shoots" are something else again.

                  2. Mary Chung's has them, too. It's been awhile, so the memory is vague. I do know they were good.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bear

                      Shangri La in Belmont offers them up as well... enjoyed them with a New Years Eve feast yesterday...