Mangetout is the apt French name for these delicious, small, crisp, sweet early peas which can indeed he completely consumed as they are, right out of the garden. I recommend only that you trim their ends and delicate strings. Faired with the sweet crunchiness of the fresh water chestnuts, and with the Chinese black mushrooms adding a contrasting texture and distinct flavour, the mangetout makes a refreshing change to ordinary peas, carrots, onions and whatever. With your wok, it takes but minutes to cook and, as a side dish, it nicely complements any meat or chicken.
If you are using fresh water chestnuts, peel them. If you are using tinned water chestnuts, drain them well and rinse in cold water. Thinly slice the water chestnuts. Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes. Drain them and squeeze out the excess liquid. Remove and discard the stems and finely shred the caps into thin strips.
Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the spring onions and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add the mangetout, mushrooms and fresh water chestnuts if you are using them and stir-fry for 1 minute. Make sure you coat them thoroughly with the oil. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the sesame oil, and continue to stir-fry for another 3 minutes. If you are using tinned water chestnuts, add these now and cook for a final 2 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked. Stir in the sesame oil, transfer to a warm platter and serve at once.
© 1996 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.