I'm trying to make stir-fried pea sprouts as seen this photo), but without the mushrooms.

stir-fried pea sprouts

I used this kind of pea sprouts:

Kind Organics pea shoots

First I wash and soak them in salt water for 15 mins. I know that I mustn't overcook these pea shoots. 2nd I turn my stainless steel pan to high heat. 3rd I add oil and Shaoxing wine. 4th I add the pea shoots to the pan, and stir fry for under 30 seconds.

But they're too stiff/starchy to even chew. When I chew them, they turn into lumps that I can't swallow.

Is the kind of sprouts the problem? Are another kind of sprouts sold in Hong Kong?

  • 4
    Without the mushrooms and the broth, these are just simple stir-fried vegetables, and you're not really mimicking the restaurant dish. Perhaps the top two photos can be removed?
    – mbjb
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 0:24
  • 1
    Is the photo of the pea shoots container the type you bought?
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 5:39
  • @FuzzyChef Yes.
    – user91594
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 21:08
  • 1
    @Vast If your issue is typos, then you can just fix the typos. You don't have to roll back edits entirely.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 3:53
  • 1
    @Vast I'd encourage you to think about what improves posts, rather than what's fastest.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 4:38

4 Answers 4


I don't make the Hong Kong recipe, but I often cook Thai-style pea shoots in the spring. And for that matter I often made them when I lived in California, so origin is not your problem.

One thing I did find is that there's a huge difference in pea shoots based on age. Tiny, 3-day old pea shoots, also called "pea sprouts", are the kind you want to flash-fry:

young snow pea shoots

Pea shoots that are a bit older, like a week or two old are also eaten:

older curly pea shoots

However, these are a lot more fibrous, and need to be blanched before frying. I don't know what you bought, but it really sounds like you got older pea shoots. Species might also make a difference; the ones that Asian markets sell are usually snow pea shoots. If you got some other kind of pea shoot, like English peas, it's possible that those are also more fibrous.

  • If you can't find pea sprouts for sale, try sprouting your own. Just make sure you have whole dried peas rather than split peas.
    – csk
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 21:07
  • I usually end up cooking pea sprouts from my spring seeding of snap peas.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Sep 18, 2020 at 5:06

If they are too hard you likely aren't cooking them long enough. 30 seconds is a very short space of time, there are very few things which will cook that quickly. There are two approaches I would try:

  1. Stir fry it longer. It may take a minute, two or longer to get to the consistency you want. Try it as you cook it, you'll get an idea of what cooked looks like
  2. Stir fry then steam it. Stir fry it for your 30 seconds to give it a bit of color, then add a small amount of water (I'd add a bit of some sort of sauce, or soy, or a bit of stock of some kind but it depends what you want it to taste like), then cover it.

Very likely, the real problem is that your stove simply doesn't give out enough heat. A gas burner at a Chinese restarutant puts out much more BTUs, so they can cook pea sprouts in a matter of seconds; however, a home stove wouldn't give you anything close to that.

Cantonese stir fry is all about the heat and the wok hei, so you're not going to get anything resembling what you find in the photo if you have something like an induction cooker or electric stove. If you do have a gas stove, though, then there's still some hope. Be sure that your pan is extremely hot, add enough oil, and cook for slightly longer than 30 seconds. Probably drop the wine, too, as it takes time to boil or evaporate (it's not typically added for vegetables anyway, so there shouldn't be a problem).

If you don't have a gas stove, then unfortunately it might be hopeless. I don't recommend blanching, because that would make the pea sprouts too mushy. Instead, you can try other Chinese pea sprout recipes, e.g. pea sprouts in broth 上汤豆苗.


The problem might well be that you have too much salt present in the mix. Pulses need salting after cooking - if you ever cook chickpeas (channa dal), lentils (e.g. toordal) or similar items, you need to cook until soft before adding any salt otherwise they become inedible hard lumps.

Try just rinsing the pea shoots in water before cooking, salting to taste (usually in Chinese cookery with soy-sauce or oyster sauce) in the final seconds of your process.

  • 4
    Pea shoots aren't pulses/legumes, they're sprouted from them. Besides, the salt thing is a myth, according to J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, #6 here. Rather, it's acid or old, dried beans that cause the difference in texture.
    – mbjb
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 0:31
  • @mbjb - It was merely a hunch that the same might apply. It could also be age and type of the shoots. However, I have cooked sequential batches of chickpeas from the same bag on day X and the day after X, with salt in the day X ones - hard as nails, without salt on the day after - just fine. No difference in cooking technique/recipe other than timing of addition of salt. Peas are most certainly legumes (former botanist here!), though I would agree, not pulses, which are the seeds of legumes.
    – bob1
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 0:50

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