These days, there are very few ingredients that are not available year-round in Hong Kong, which makes the short-lived dau miu (or pea shoot) season especially anticipated. If you are not familiar with dau miu, the tender green is a widely used ingredient in both Cantonese and Shanghainese kitchens during a season which starts in November and runs until Chinese New Year. Dau miu used to garner much higher prices until commercial cultivation in Guangdong began the 70s, and still maintains its traditional farming methods. We spoke to our chefs and discovered the secrets to enjoying this winter treat.
Jowett Yu, ho lee fook
Because of its seasonality, I end up eating dau miu every day until the season is over and then I won’t see it again until next winter. Honestly, there is really nothing else like it. Dau miu is hard to find outside of Hong Kong, growing up in Taiwan I never tried it and I definitely did not get a taste in Canada or Australia. If you are cooking it at home, I recommend putting in a little extra time and picking the leaves off the stems, as the bigger stems can be quite tough. It is time-consuming but so worth it, and the most difficult part of the process because once that is done it is just a quick stir fry, with lots of garlic and you are good to go. At Ho Lee Fook, we have added it onto the menu for the season and cook it with garlic and Shaoxing.
John Nguyen, Chôm Chôm
Dau miu is easy to find in Hong Kong markets during winter and a firm favourite of mine on the culinary calendar. When I was younger, my dad would attempt to cook our family dinner or try new recipes and would never get them quite right. But when he made dau miu, he somehow always managed to do an excellent job and surprise everyone with how delicious it was! Whenever I eat this vegetable, I am reminded of my family and childhood memories around the dinner table, or out at a Chinese restaurant if we were being treated. Being Vietnamese, I like to eat mine stir-fried with some oil, crushed garlic, minced chilli and fish sauce. It is super simple but packed with flavour. I think delicate greens like this deserves to be handled with care to bring out their maximum flavour.
Theign Yie Phan, Le Garçon Saigon
I usually source my dau miu from the wet market in Wan Chai, just a few blocks down from Le Garçon Saigon. For a green vegetable, dau miu is exceptionally sweet, particularly if you use the smaller leaves. I try to avoid long stalks, as they can be more bitter. I also use the shoots the day I buy them because they can start to ferment after a few days due to their high sugar content. I like mine seasoned lightly with salt, soy sauce and minced garlic. I used to only eat dau miu at high-end Chinese restaurants with my family, but now I enjoy them mostly as a side dish around Chinese New Year with my mum. Whenever I feel nostalgic, I whip up some steamed fragrant rice with dau miu.
Keen to try it? You can get your fix at ho lee fook, with dau miu making its annual debut on the menu until the end of the season. And why not have a look at our guide to hairy crab season or take a sip of increasingly popular Chinese wines with our sommelier-guided insights here.