Stir-Fry Pea Shoot Tendrils in Garlic and Black Bean Sauce (Rau Muong Xao)
Rau muống xào tỏi, literally fresh stir-fry pea shoot tendrils in Vietnamese is my favorite Asian vegetable. It is a staple that can be found on almost every dinner table in Vietnam. This is mostly because it is very easy to grow and very cheap in Vietnam.
In America, pea shoot tendrils can be quite expensive. I always find it interesting that foods that are considered working-class fare in their country of origin can be so expensive in other place. Maybe it's because they are not grown in great abundance here or maybe it's because immigrants crave the foods of their childhood and are willing to pay more for the memories.
In terms of preparation, pea shoots couldn't be easier. Just stir-fry the vegetables very quickly over high heat. Blend in some garlic and black bean sauce and you're set.
Yields: 44 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 Tbs canola oil
2 tsp ginger, freshly grated
1 bunch pea shoot tendrils, rau muống, about 1 lb
1 1/2 tsp black bean sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
2 Tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp black peppercorns, freshly ground
Wash the pea shoots in water several times. The greens tend to be very sandy. So wash them thoroughly. Remove and discard the fibrous and older part of the stems. Remove as much water as possible. Chop the stems into 5-inches sections.
In a wok, heat the oil over high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until it's slightly golden. Add the black bean sauce. Add the greens and toss the vegetables for about 3 minutes. The pea shoots are going to wilt and become transluscent. Add the soy sauce. Distribute the soy sauce evenly by stirring the greens constantly. Transfer all the pea shoots to a plate.
Eat with chopsticks!
Some people like to blanch (dip for 15 seconds in boiling water then transfer in an ice bath) the rau muong. I don't. Would you blanch spinach before sauteeing it?
The soy sauce brings saltiness to the dish and a nice amber brown color. My favorite soy sauce is the Da Bo De brand. It has a very nice flavor and is not too salty. You can this particular sauce in downtown San Jose, like at Dai Thanh Asian market on 420 S 2nd St, in San Jose. Well, it's not the prettiest. Don't expect to enter an Asian version of Whole Food, but it has all the fresh Vietnamese produce at a very reasonable price. This is one of the best "ethnic" grocery store in the area.
I use store-bought black bean garlic sauce, the Lee Kum Kee brand.
Quick note about how to get freshly grated ginger: Clean the ginger root and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife. Grate the ginger with a fine mesh microplane. Gather about 2 teaspoons of grated ginger root.Published By: on April 18, 2009.