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Stir-Fried Snap Peas and Mushrooms with Fish Sauce and Basil

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[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

This stir-fry is quick, delicious, nutritious, and has only 9 ingredients (ok, 11 if you count oil and salt), which puts it pretty high in the running as a candidate for my list of "100 greatest easy weeknight side dishes of all time," if I ever get around to writing it down. I am not a list-maker by nature.

Snap peas are sweet, crunchy, and tender, and with a hint of smoky char from the wok, they are one of the greats as far as stir-fry veggies are concerned. Hon-shimeji mushroom—all mushrooms, in fact—are almost custom made for stiry-frys. Unlike green vegetables which have to be taken from raw to cooked to plated within minutes to retain their bright, fresh flavor, mushrooms can be cooked, held, and reheated just fine.

To take advantage of this, I start my stir-fry by cooking just the mushrooms in the wok, rather than trying to cook all of the vegetables at once. This allows my to retain more heat, get a better char and more wok hei (elusive smoky flavor that good stir-frys have). I then season them and transfer them to a bowl. Then it's a simple matter of reheating the wok, stir-frying the snap peas, tossing the 'shrooms back in with a simple sauce of fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice, adding a handful of chopped basil, and throwing it on a plate.

All told, it comes together in about ten minutes. Fifteen if you're really slow at cleaning snap peas (but cleaning snap peas is what spouses, children, and guests are for, right?).

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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