Spring is here in San Diego; the Winter rains have spawned a lush green on canyon hillsides and the mockingbirds are starting their mellifluous Spring rants. Oranges, tangerines and kumquats are in abundance at the farmer’s markets, while the first sweet organic strawberries are beginning to show themselves in the fields like voluptuous damsels in red dresses. At the Hillcrest Farmers Market, the Rodriguez Brothers organic booth offers the first sugar snap peas, reminding me of early Spring in Michigan where they were one of the first crops to show up after the thaw.
At my former restaurant, Inn Season Cafe, we would prep crate upon crate of the sweet pods and serve them steamed as a side vegetable, seared for use as an appetizer or added at the last second to a stir fry, so they stayed crisp on the plate. Today, I am steaming them in a skillet with just enough water to completely steam out within a minute. As I prepare the peas for steaming, I enjoy the melody of the crisp “snap” as I remove each end of the pods before pulling off the string. After steaming, I quickly toss them with a few drops of ume plum vinegar just before serving. Fresh, crisp and full of life, they are one of the Spring’s delights.