There is always that moment, mid-winter, when one starts to crave freshness and greens after weeks of root vegetables and brassicas. When this happens, I usually buy pea shoots which are available year round when grown indoors. They have a grassy taste which is a nice change from the other vegetables available in season.
I originally planned on serving this in bao buns as part of a filling with dried lily buds and dried mushrooms but, as the day went on, I was more interested in the greens than in anything else so decided to save bao bun ideas for later and keep this simple and concentrate on the grassy notes of the shoots instead. Instead, I cooked down a half a pound of pea shoots in a brothy sauce and pretended -- if only for a dinner -- that spring was right around the corner.
If you use a non-stick pan then no oil is necessary. if not, a slick of very hot vegetable oil before adding the pork to the pan is probably a good idea in terms of clean up.
1/2 lb pea shoots, rinsed and drained
1/4 lb best ground pork
1/4 cup chicken stock or water
2 tsps soy sauce
2 tsps sake
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
Salt to taste
Add the pork, sugar and a pinch of salt to the pan. Turn the heat on to medium and cook until the pork is no longer pink, breaking it into clumps as it cooks. Stir it up from the bottom every minute or so.
As soon as the pork is cooked and has reabsorbed most of its juices, sprinkle the surface with the cornstarch and stir to combine, breaking the pork down further into clumps.
Add the pea shoots, stir well to combine with the pork, before adding the stock, soy sauce and sake.
Continue to cook, stirring, until the pea shoots are wilted, the broth is hot and has been slightly thickened by the cornstarch.