Snow peas, snap peas, sweet peas, mangetout and edamame

Snow peas, snap peas, sweet peas, mangetout and edamame

Peas: small, round and green; sold fresh, frozen, dried or canned.

Snow peas: edible whole pods with unripened peas inside; pods rather flat; sold fresh or canned; called chicharo or sitsaro in the Philippines.

Snap peas: like snow peas, edible whole pods with unripened peas inside; pods rounder than snow peas; sold fresh or canned.

Mangetout: a French term for “eat all” refers to both snap peas and snap peas and is descriptive of the characteristics of both of having edible pods.

Don’t confuse any of the above with edamame which is soy bean with edible pods.

Why the enumeration? Because grocery labels can get confusing. These snap snow peas, for instance, were labeled as Chinese sweet peas at Shopwise. Huh? Sweet pea is a totally different plant cultivated for its flowers and its seeds can be toxic.

In the Philippines, snow peas are more common than snap peas. The pods are used in stir fried dishes and is especially popular as one of several vegetables for pancit canton, a catch-all name for lo mein and chow mein.

Locally known as chicharo or sitsaro, they are sold fresh and are available all year round. The best ones are small, no more than two-and-a-half inches in length.

Why does the length matter? Because, most times, it is a gauge of the maturity of the pods. The younger and smaller ones are more tender and, often, sweeter. The larger ones can be pretty fibrous.

How are snow peas prepared?

Snow peas, snap peas, sweet peas, mangetout and edamame

You snap off both ends and string them.

“String” them? Yes. “String” refers to the string-like tough fibrous part that runs along both sides of each pod. After snapping off one end, hold it, move your hand sideways and pull off the stringy side. Do that with both ends and both sides.

Snow peas, snap peas, sweet peas, mangetout and edamame

Once you have performed that operation for all the pods, they are ready for cooking.

How long does it take to cook snow peas? It depends on the maturity. The more mature ones will require a longer cooking time. The best snow peas will cook in a few minutes.

Some of my recipes with snow peas:

  • nina

    the one in the photos are snow peas, right? perhas you mean snow peas in this paragraph :) i love snow peas.

    “These snap peas, for instance, were labeled as Chinese sweet peas at Shopwise. Huh? Sweet pea is a totally different plant cultivated for its flowers and its seeds can be toxic.”

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      Yes, right. Let me correct that. :)

    • maria

      hi connie, ive been a constant follower of your site. i really like the way you present your recipes, easy to follow and sure na masarap…lately, i am having a problem viewing your site. all letters are mixed-up, not sure of what you call it .even writing this comment, took me several minutes bago ma-type…not sure if it is our internet problem, but it happens to your site only…hope maayos na to, i frequently visit your recipes for our daily menu..=)…thanks and more power!

      • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

        What browser are you using?

  • yayi

    A few minutes ago, they’re all the same to me. Now I know better and I should thank you for that. :) Hanging out in your site feels like I’m enrolled in a Culinary Arts School, only better coz it’s free. lol. Kudos to your site and keep ‘em coming!

  • Queenie Makulit

    Hi Connie,

    There are some peas/beans that we grow here in Quezon Province that look just like snow peas/sitsaro but a few shades lighter in color and they are tougher that snow peas. They grow prolifically here so they obviously do not require the cooler climates snow peas and snap beans do. My husband a Bicolano refers to them as Bilow or Bilaw but I can’t find anything online called that. For me, since they are not as sweet or crispy as sitsaro, I let mine get quite mature and then use the beans inside the pod which are much like lima beans but a bit smaller. We chop the shells and put it in our doggie lugaw. My question is do you know the general name for this pea/bean? Thanks.

  • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

    I can’t make a guess without seeing the beans. :)