Also known as Chinese pea pods, snow peas are the preferred pea variety for Chinese stir frys. Some suggest that they’re called snow peas because they grow very early in the season, undeterred by frost or snow.
Peas were cultivated in China by the 7th century; the Chinese, who were the first to consider peas a fresh, rather than a dried, vegetable, and the first to consume the entire pea pod, called them hu tou, which meant “foreign legume.” Like sugar snap peas, snow peas are called mangetouts by the French because the whole pod is edible (pods of ordinary garden peas have a tough inner lining which makes them inedible). In the case of snow peas, however, the fibrous strings are usually removed before eating.
Like other types of pea, snow peas are a climbing legume. But unlike petits pois and sugar snap peas, snow peas are shiny and flat with very small peas. They are a good source of vitamin C and iron, and they contain lots of sugar, so that they are very sweet, crisp and crunchy. Snow peas can be served either raw or cooked.
Use them as quickly as possible after purchase. Store unwashed in a perforated bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.