(Pisum sativum ssp. sativum convar. axiphium – Family Leguminosae)
Sugar snap pea, snow pea, sugar pea, edible-pod(ded) pea, Chinese (snow) pea, Chinese pea pod
Sugar, or snow, peas are harvested when immature and eaten whole. They have a particularly high sugar content.
did not originate in China but rather in Holland, as early as 1536 when it was named the “Holland Pea” and introduced to France by the ambassador to Holland about 1600.
Although not native to China, Asian dishes use them to such an extent that many think they are native to that country.
Both sugar and snap peas are types of sugar peas. Their main difference is in their shape.
Snow peas are completely flat with under-developed inner seeds, while sugar snaps are fully rounded, and closely resemble the garden pea in the pod. It is best to buy this type of peas at Asian markets where the turnover is greater. In supermarkets, they are likely to sit longer.
Most pea pods have a string that runs down the seams like a zipper. This should be removed if using the pods for eating.
The Sugar Daddy snow pea is one variety that is stringless. If the peas are young and fresh, these strings are not a bother.
When cooked, peas can be eaten hot, or cold in salads.
Pea sprouts and pea shoots (dau miu in Cantonese)
are the curling tendrils and leaves of the snow pea plant. Their flavour is like fresh peas straight from the pod.
They are sold in two stages: as sprouts no longer than a couple of inches long and shoots which are rare and expensive unless grown at home.
The pea sprouts are less expensive than the shoots; and, although not as sweet and spring green as only the leaf portion is green, they do make a good substitute.
Blue Pod Capucijners
are a gray sugar pea and one of the more unusual varieties. It becomes quite leathery when mature, but is decorative with rose-pink and wine-red flowers. The deep maroon pods change to an inky blue as the peas mature. Originally a Dutch variety, these peas were likely developed by Capuchin monks and came to be known as pois à cross violette (purple cross peas) in France.
Sugar peas or mange-tout varieties (var. macrocarpon) are grown for their edible, immature pods. Of these, Sugar Snap types, are the most succulent and sweet.
Early peas include the following:
Early Onward has large blunt pods with wrinkled seeds.
Feltham First has round seeds with large well-filled pods.
Prince Albert is an early variety, producing bumper crops.
Maincrops include the following:
Bikini is a high yield semi-leafless.
Cavalier produces heavy crops of wrinkled seeds.
Daisy is low-growing.
Darfon produces high yields of petit pois types packed in their pods.
Hurst Green Shaft produces wrinkle-seeds.
Sugar peas include the following:
Oregon Sugar Pod which is sweet and tasty.
Reuzensuiker produces very sweet, wide fleshy pods.
Sugar Snap produces very succulent and sweet pods.