Thursday, June 16, 2011

Double Take: Beef with Sugar Snap Peas

In the process of preparing this post, I started paying more attention to peas. I know, who needs to pay attention to peas. Many people won't eat them. I grew up loving peas though. We grew them and enjoyed them fresh or frozen. At our house, peas were always served with pork tenderloin and macaroni and cheese. If you say out it loud it really rolls off your tongue, "macaroni and cheese and peas". We also liked to stir peas into our mashed potatoes. Nearly everyone in our family eats them this way. If you haven't tried it, I'd encourage you to do so. That's a different kind of pea though. Its a pea that you shell to eat.

In addition to shell peas, there are two other varieties: sugar snap peas and snow peas. The latter two pea types are eaten whole (pod and all). I was shocked the first time I saw someone eat the whole pea. They were dipping them in ranch dressing and I thought I'd give it a go. It was good. Now, some may contend that most anything dipped in ranch dressing is good but these were good without the ranch too. I know, shocking. I liked the crunch of the pod and the bonus popping of the peas in my mouth. What's the difference between snow peas and sugar snap peas though? Snow peas are really more of the pod with what seems like underdeveloped peas inside. Its a very flat edible pod. Snow peas are a great option for people who don't like the added pop of the peas in their mouth.

If I'm planning to eat the whole pea (pod and all), I prefer the snow pea. I love the mixed crunching textures! When I saw Pioneer Woman's post on Beef with Snow Peas, I was intrigued. She has this recipe selected as one of her all time favorites. I figured, if this was one of her favorite dishes...and it was this simple, why not try it. Most of the time, someone's favorite dish is well done, has been prepared many times, and is really worth testing. This is no exception. My words to you are to DEFINITELY TRY THIS. In fact, just thinking about it makes me want some for lunch. MMMmm. With this in mind, I rarely make a recipe without changing something. In this case, I'm a sugar snap pea kind of gal. I'm also a big fan of veggies so there are some small changes in amounts but these are just personal preferences.

Beef and Sugar Snap Peas (adapted from the awesome Pioneer Woman)

Serves: 4 (full meals aka one pot wonders) If serving with something else it would go further.
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 15 min


1 1/2 lbs flank steak, sliced thinly against the grain (ask your butcher to do this for you to save time)
1/2 c. low sodium soy sauce
3 Tbsp. sherry, white wine, or white grape juice
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp corn starch
1 Tbsp (about 1") peeled, freshly minced ginger (I suggest using a microplane for this job)
1 lb sugar snap peas (This doubles the amount in the original recipe)
5 scallions (green onions) sliced on the diagonal or straight into 1/4 inch pieces
3 Tbsp peanut or olive oil
crushed red pepper, for sprinkling to heat it up a notch
jasmine or long grain rice (I use 3 c. water to 1 c. rice.)

How To:

1. Start your rice. Prepare it however you prefer. My favorite way is 3 c. water to 1 c. rice. Place in a microwaveable bowl and cover it with a lid. Run the microwave 12 minutes and it should be done. Check at the end of the cycle. If you still see water, run 2 more minutes and check. If too dry, add a few Tbsp of water and run 2 more minutes and check. Usually 12 minutes is perfect for my microwave but they all vary a little.

2. Mix together the soy sauce, white wine (or grape juice), brown sugar, corn starch, and ginger in a medium sized bowl. Add your meat and toss around to coat.

3. Heat peanut or olive oil in a large skillet. Add sugar snap peas and stir for 45 seconds. Remove sugar snap peas to a separate plate.

4. Add half the meat and half the scallions to the hot pan. Spread the meat out across the surface of the pan and do not stir for one minute. Turn the meat over and cook another 30 seconds. Remove the meat to a clean plate.

5. Add the other half of the meat and do the same thing you did in step 4 except, when done, leave the meat in the pan.

6. Add the sugar snap peas and the rest of the meat. Stir on high for 30 s. Turn off the heat. Wait 2-3 minutes for the sauce to thicken as it cools and serve over hot rice. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper if you'd like a little spicy heat.


Voila. That was quick and easy. It was also DELICIOUS! No exaggeration there at all. Shockingly its a full meal in under 30 minutes. If you can't find flank steak on sale, substitute another type of steak that might be on sale. This is a pleasing, flavorful meal that I plan to repeat soon.

Update: 2/02/12: This has been made at least 4 times since the first time with great results. It goes nicely with fried rice as well. My friends and I made this as a main dish for Chinese New Year Cooking Night and it was a hit. The picture may not be that convincing but the flavor is great. My younger sister also did a Chinese New Year party using this recipe and her friends loved it! They were also pleased that it was such a quick dish to prepare.

For a second set of thoughts on this recipe, check out Mel's take at Fabulously Fun Food.


  1. We had totally opposite pea experiences. I was very confused when I saw people eating peas and not the pod! So, in the privacy of my own home, I tried the pod... and realized why others weren't eating it! I now have a particular fondness for shelling peas and buy as many as possible when they are in season (hence my risotto obsession of late). Thanks for picking out this recipe. It is awesome!

  2. Wait a minute here. Did you seriously make a savory recipe without garlic?!

  3. I like peas that are shelled too. For stir fry, I think the sugar snap are nice. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    I guess there's a first time for everything. ;)