Pea sprouts is the term given to sprouted peas that have small, tender shoots with or without tiny leaves. Technically, they are different from pea shoots, which are sprouts that have been allowed to grow more; pea shoots have long, thin stems, climbing tendrils, and big leaves. People may use both terms to refer to pea sprouts, though they are representative of sprouts in different stages of growth. Sprouted peas have a delicate flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked lightly. They contain many vital vitamins that help the body to eliminate toxins more easily.
Common peas that are good for sprouting include Alaskan field peas, snow peas, and bill jumps. Yellow peas and speckled peas are also interesting pea varieties to sprout. Mixing different peas together and sprouting them results in a very colorful and nutrient-packed sprouted pea mix. The peas can be mixed or stored separately for years. When sprouted in a commercial sprouter or using other methods, they sprout really fast.
Sprouts that are as young as two days old can be quite delicious. For the most part, children love to eat pea sprouts because they have roots on one end and leaves on the other with the peas in between. Young sprouts also store well in a refrigerator. They can be eaten in soups, simply steamed, or stir-fried with vegetables, meat, or seafood. Raw sprouts can be chopped up and added to salads.
Some peas, like marrow fat peas, are used in the U.K. to make mushy peas after sprouting them. Stir-fried pea sprouts are one of the best ways to cook these tender sprouts because they retain both the color and subtle flavor of the pea. The important thing to remember is to cook the sprouts until they are lightly wilted and not longer.
A quick way to stir-fry sprouts involves sauteing minced garlic in a little oil and adding a few red chillies. The mixture is stir-fried for a few seconds until the oil acquires a spicy aroma and the chillies become darker. The pea sprouts can be thrown in with a little more garlic and stir-fried for a minute. When served hot, these pea sprouts are a wonderful dish on their own or can be added as a garnish to other dishes. Adding a little freshly ground black pepper or some light soy sauce also enhances the taste of the sprouts.