Stir-fried Garlic Peas with Coriander

Serves: 2
Cost: ~€0.90
Preparation time: ~5 minutes
Calories: ~150 per serving

Before I launch into the main subject of today’s post, I thought I’d share something rather interesting with you. Hands up who’s heard of a durian? Keep your hands up if you’ve tried one. Ok, now keep your hands up if you enjoyed it? For those still with their hands proudly up… you have my admiration. When my sister was visiting me last weekend we went to Chinatown in Paris and walked past a sizeable Asian supermarket. Oh the joy – young coconuts, giant papayas, mangoes, banana leaves, a great many other things I’d never heard of… I was a bit like a kid in a candy store, running around stuffing all manner of things in my rapidly over-flowing basket. My sister had her eyes on one thing though. “You’ve got to try a durian! I’m going to buy you one!”. I’ll admit it right now… I was apprehensive to say the least (a better way of describing my emotion would be “scared”). This is the fruit which has been described by some as smelling like rotting flesh – hardly a great advert.

The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour, strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as fragrant; others find the aroma overpowering and offensive. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as almonds, rotten onions, turpentine and gym socks

Visually though, they’re stunning. Heavy, hard, spiky things, the size of a football they sat there, all piled up, looking very intriguing. You’ve got to choose one which has started to crack, so I’m told. That’s the sure sign of finding a ripe one, although it’s not a dead certainty. It’s not like you can give them a squeeze, like you would a peach. You’d end up needing stitches if you did!

The whole durian

The shop assistant dutifully wrapped it up in newspaper (very thoughtful… I can well imagine how my legs would look after a short walk with that swishing around next to my knees!) and put it in a bag and off we went. I’ll admit right now… the immediate smell wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. It was almost pleasant while it was sitting in the car. Once home I set to work to pry it open and eventually managed to rend a section of it free to reveal the “meat” inside. I say meat, because I have to admit that it kind of looked a little like slightly under-cooked chicken, complete with a bit of juice running out… yum!

Egged on by my wife and sister, and the knowledge that apparently my niece loves the things, and she’s three years old, I knew I had to man up and taste it. I gingerly bit a small piece off and was pretty surprised. Once again – not half as bad as I’d imagined, although apparently this durian was bad quality – dry, flavourless, and a different variety to the ones which are popular in Asia apparently, so it was a bit disappointing. Apparently when properly ripe it should be sweet with the texture of an extremely ripe banana. I don’t think I’ll be joining the durian fan club anytime soon… the flavour wasn’t that good, but I’m glad I’ve tried it. I’ve got a can of dried durian here as well… real tasty stuff (so I’m told). Stay tuned and I might do a “live tasting” on video of that soon :).

Inside the durian

Anyway, on with today’s post, all about peas! I think you either like them or you hate them. Dreaded vegetable for kids everywhere, I can’t count the number of times I heard the phrase “eat your peas” when I was younger. Naturally, as time went by and my tastes developed and evolved I learned to love peas, but there are peas and then there are peas, and those funky things you get in cans don’t really deserve the name. As I mentioned in my last video, I went for a visit to a farm shop last weekend and got all sorts of fantastic stuff. I’ll admit, I got rather carried away when I saw the things they had. Fresh beetroot, big juicy lemons, green tomatoes, fresh garlic and the star of today’s post: some wonderful peas.

I don’t often buy peas; I’m not really sure why. They’re not my wife’s favourite food, and as a result I guess we just kind of adapt our eating habits to things which we both enjoy. Because of this lack of preparation experience with the things, my method of serving has always been the same – boiled, plain and simple. Can you name a more boring cooking method? I would imagine not.

I started shelling these little beauties and as soon as I saw them, I knew that I had to do something good with them. I couldn’t just chuck these sweet, tender little gems into a giant pot of boiling water; they deserved so much better! Incidentally standing there, podding peas and thinking about life got me thinking. Isn’t nature amazing? Just look at those pea pods… the perfection with which they open like that, all stacked up! Thousands, no, probably millions of years worth of evolution in plant-life, all coming together to deliver these little pockets of wonder to me.

Podding the peas

If I can give you one message from today’s post, it’s “eat more peas”. It’s the food of many pleasures. First you have the joy of shelling them (maybe this isn’t a joy to everyone, but I love it personally), next you have the joy of eating the peas and finally, don’t throw away the shells because you can use those for a nice stock. The dish is quick to make and makes a wonderful accompaniment or even a snack on its own!

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week – not too stressful, not too busy. I’m looking forward to whipping up a few more things in the kitchen this weekend and stay tuned for my next video and recipe for the lemons I got from the farm shop, coming up next Tuesday.

Stir-fried Garlic Peas with Coriander


Stir-fried Garlic Peas with Coriander ingredients

  • A few good handfuls of fresh peas, shelled
  • ~3 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • a large handful of fresh Coriander
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in a wok or large frying pan and while it’s heating, peel and mince the garlic and chop the coriander roughly. When the oil is very hot, add in the peas. Fry quickly for about 30 seconds before adding in the minced garlic and the soy sauce. Continue to fry for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly, until the garlic has softened. Add in salt and pepper to taste and then stir in the chopped coriander. Mix well and serve.
    Stir-fried Garlic Peas with Coriander

    Stir-fried Garlic Peas with Coriander


  1. says

    I often see durians in the shops in Sydney but I’m too afraid to buy them. I’ve heard about the off-putting smell and then what do you do with them? They certainly are challenging. When summer rolls around again I’ll google some recipes and have a go at cooking with them. Love how you shelled your own peas. I also find it very therapeutic and relaxing. Great recipe and I remember Jamie Oliver once saying, ‘Anyone who doesn’t have a bag of peas in their freezer is just a snob’! Peas are great and they’re not going to break anyone’s budget xx

    • says

      Hi Charlie – apparently you can stew it up with chicken and it makes a quite nice dish. Worth a try! Totally agree with Jamie – peas are great (I used to love eating frozen ones!) and they’re a fab way of adding colour to many dishes!

  2. says

    First, I’m one of those who didn’t like the Durian..

    Second, I didn’t know children may not like the peas, because I grew up eating slow cooked green peas tagine with artichokes and lamb and I always enjoyed. I must say that was the only way I knew. Now I’m varying the use..I actually just got back from the Saturday market with some fresh peas pods..

    I was so absent-minded when I’ve read “garlic-peas” and I started wondering: is there any pea that comes garlic-ky or shaped like a garlic?” I should have another cup of coffee!!

    • says

      Hi Nada – I guess it’s a cultural thing. To me, that tajine with lamb and peas sounds freaking amazing! Such dishes aren’t common in England… or rather, they weren’t so common 20 years ago, and still aren’t amongst the, er, “less adventurous” folk. For many English kids, their memories of peas consists of a big pile of over-boiled peas, rolling around on the plate, amongst a big pile of mashed potato 😀

  3. says

    I always snickered when people tell me they didn’t like durians, that was before I tried them myself. Although I can’t say I love it, it’s not so hateful as what some people say. With that said, it’s not a fruit I’d choose to eat over others. 😉 Peas on the other hand I love. 😀

    • says

      Hi Jenny – yeah, it’s definitely not “OMG THE WORST THING EVER”, that’s for sure but as you said… give me a nice mango, a banana, an apple any day 😀

  4. says

    I saw that fruit on food network’s city chef challenge. I must admit I would hesitate to try it too. BTW how does one know what rotting flesh smells like to akin it to this?
    I love fresh peas but seldom take the time to cook it. My mom used to cook it in the spring, mainly as a tasty soup (will have to dig up that recipe one day).
    She always saved the young skins but she removed that hard plastic membrane and we were able to eat them! The membrane is on the inside as I recall, just fold it at the top to crack the meaty part and slowly pull the inside down toward the end, keeping the fold rather tight. It comes off quite easily. Discard the pasticy membrane and keep the meat. She always threw it in the soup as extra. Now you’ve got me thinking about this soup!
    The stir fried peas sound delicious, Charles. Here is another little difference, coriander: in Canada and maybe the US, we call the leaves cilantro and the seeds coriander. It’s one of my flavourite herbs.

    • says

      Hi Eva – I was aware of the cilantro/coriander difference. Did you know that there’s an asian equivalent called “culantro”, which is very long, slender leaves, with a thick stem which are often put into pho?

      I’m not sure who it was that described this fruit as smelling like rotten fruit – I think it was on a show I watched, or maybe in the news… it’s not as bad as all that though :)

      I love shelling peas – could sit there all day and do it… same as for broad beans!

      • says

        Hi Charles, the “culantro” word caught my attention here. I’ve been buying culantro to use in my cooking but wasn’t sure what it called as the farmer on the Farmer’s market couldn’t tell me exactly it’s name. But now I see it is culantro indeed, and it tastes very good, has great aroma and incredible flavor.

        • says

          Glad I could help – I love the stuff… it lasts for longer than cilantro and is much more “solid” so you can rough-house it a bit in your cooking!

      • says

        I did not know that, thank you Charles. I’m going to try to find a heartier variety to grow at home, the supermarket cilantro goes to seed too fast!

  5. says

    I´ve tried durian and it wasn´t for me :( I don´t know if it´s true but I´ve heard you´re not allwoed to carry them on the metro in China because they like them very ripe and they stink, stink, stink! Anyway, I adore peas and could sit down right now with that bowl and eat them all to myself :)

    • says

      Hi Chica – I read that they’re banned from certain places in some parts of asia – public transport, hotels etc. I imagine it must be quite a stench in hot, humid summer streets, with durians piled up on every corner!

  6. says

    Oh I love fresh peas, those look so tasty with the garlic and coriander (cilantro for us in the U.S. :)).

    I’ve heard of a durian though never seen one nor tried one. Your comment that it resembles under-cooked chicken made me laugh!

    • says

      Hi Laura – I’d be interested in what you thought of them.. if you ever have a chance to try a durian then I would recommend it! Definitely worth a try!

  7. says

    I’ve heard of, seen in the flesh and actually touched durian. The temptation to explore further did not go past that. I give you props for your willingness to match the open mindedness of a 3 yr old though in trying it. :)

    As to peas, I like them and have had them canned or frozen. No fresh ones though. For some reason any bean which still has the ‘shell’ on doesn’t appeal so no green or yellow beans for me. I think the flavour is too strong in that form. I like a little salt and butter on my peas and that’s it. Though they’re great in pot pies. :)

    • says

      It’s too bad you’re not a fan of fresh ones… canned peas are just disgusting – mushy, flavourless, at least compared to the fresh ones. Agreed about peas being great in pies. I like to add them to shepherd’s pies… they’re so nice in those!

  8. says

    I love durians but I absolutely hate peas and coriander! Let’s do a swap :) durians and peas are much like marmite – you either love it or hate it!

    • says

      Hi BA – I can’t believe you love durians!! Ok, you can have all of those… I’ll happily trade you those for all the coriander and peas 😀

  9. says

    Durian is one of my favorite fruits. So much so that I even did a video on it, lol. Lovely Peas (Coriander is my FAVORITE herb)!!! You just know the foodie way to my heart don’t ya? 😉

  10. says

    I’m still in the same club as you are in… I see it in Asian store or even when I visit Taiwan to see my in-laws… I did not like it on my first try but I should give it a try again to see if my palate is improved to appreciate different flavor than when I first tried it. It’s an acquired taste isn’t it?

    I’ve never cooked peas this way. Sounds delicious. I love cilantro (coriander) and we always have it in the fridge. Will give it a try soon!

    • says

      I’m not sure if my palate will ever adapt to durian, although I’d love to try a really ripe one, one day.

      Hope you can try the peas – let me know what you think :)

  11. says

    Charles, that is one scary looking fruit. How do you handle it, here I go with the gloves again, LOL. It really looks like those prickly things would hurt. I have to tell you, I absolutely hate peas, and have done since I was a kid. I am going to give them a try again using this recipe, it includes garlic, hadn’t thought to try peas that way and then soy sauce, this may change my way of looking at peas. It is somewhat ridiculous at my age to still have such an aversions to those tiny veggies. Hope you have a great weekend.

    • says

      My mom’s 87 and still doesn’t like peas but she enjoys fresh green beans and yellow beans. I on the other hand enjoy peas and hate the stuff in pods. Even the mange toute are iffy for me unless they’re barely cooked. Have you tried peas in pot pies by the way? My mom will eat them that way. Strange, I know. :)

      • says

        Hi there. The funny thing is I don’t mind them so much in something like a pot pie either, because there are not too many. nbut as a side dish by, can’t do it. What is mange toute?

        • says

          Hi Suzi – mangetout are something a bit like sugarsnap peas, or snow peas… I can never quite work out which is which, or if there’s any difference at all 😀

    • says

      Hi Suzi – it is a scary looking fruit… and heavy too… like a watermelon. Because of that you have to be careful, although from the travel and transport, the spikes are usually blunt enough that you can handle it by hand, albeit with a bit of occasional pain… a bit like a spiky hand massage 😀

      I hope you try the peas – let me know if you do!

  12. says

    Hey Charles, sorry, we are having a conversation on your post comments. I thought it was you at first. Snow peas are flat and you don’t take the peas out if there are even any in there, they are great sauteed, not like peas at all. Sugar peas are fatter and have peas inside. My daughter eats the sugar peas raw dipped in a dressing.

    • says

      Hi Suzi – it’s the snow peas then, since you eat the whole thing – mangetout, literally from the french “mange tout” (eat all).

  13. says

    I tried Durian in Singapore – it was bright yellow and was completely and utterly revolting! My partner felt ill for the rest of the day. Yuk. However, this peas recipe is delightful. I’m off to try this now.

    • says

      Hi Jules – I’d like to try one of the ones they have in China/Singapore etc. The flesh is yellow, it’s a different variety I believe and apparently much more tasty (or disgusting… depending on how you feel about the things!).

  14. says

    So what did you really think of the durian?

    You know that bad smell is something that I don’t even notice anymore when going in the grocery store. There are some places that they only sell them whole because of the smell but of course many places such as the wet markets it is just wide open. Have you every tried Durian ice cream? Personally you would never have to tell me twice to eat my peas as your dish sound so fresh and yummy. However, durian on the other hand, I’m fine without. I can’t wait to see your videos. Take Care, BAM

    • says

      Hi Bam, I have to admit that in the end I wasn’t a huge fan, although I’m really curious what the ice-cream would be like! I’d like to try one of the different varieties which they have in Asia too. This one seemed quite dry and not juicy alas!

  15. says

    It looks like a great and simple stir-fried side dish. I love peas. I have always loved them and never heard “eat your peas” maybe because I used to pick them fresh and crunchy in my grandmothers’ gardens (eating half of the bag on the spot), so I never associated with such foods hated by children as spinach or beetroot… I often use frozen peas all year round to mix with rice. This way I cheat my eyes and stomach and eat reasonable amounts of rice (I’m addicted and could have really lots of it… for almost every meal).
    Excellent description of your durian experience! I wish I could taste it one day, but after having read your story I will wait till I travel to Asia…

    • says

      Thanks so much Sissi – I have to admit, when I used to get a big pile of peas when I was younger, often the only way I could “force them down” was by mixing them with mashed potatoes and a good squirt of ketchup, lol 😀

      Fresh peas have always been a bit different though – they definitely have a wonderful quality to them!

      I hope you get a chance to try a durian one day… I’m really interested in what you will think of it!

  16. says

    Durian is not a fruit for me. Years ago someone gave me a can of durian cookies I just couldn’t get it past my nose, gave it to a friend who adores durian.
    There is nothing like freshly harvested peas. The canned ones are nasty for sure.

    • says

      Hi Norma – totally agree. Frozen peas will do in a pinch, but canned peas are not something you’ll ever find in my apartment!

      Durian cookies – eek. I still haven’t tried my dried durian chips… going to do it this week!

  17. says

    First of all – I’ve never had a durian and after you failed sale of trying one, I probably never will. :) Secondly – I actually prefer these types of peas raw. If they’re good, not many of them make it to the pot. I eat too many while shelling! Looking at your ingredients, I bet this dish could be made as a salad with raw peas. what do you think? It looks delicious!

    • says

      Hi MJ – you could definitely make a raw pea salad, I’m sure it would be delicious. Personally I like them stir-fried a lot. Not fried too much… just a little bit to take off the raw flavour (which I like, but not like this) – they still have crunch and colour and are really good!

  18. says

    Hi Charles,

    Big fan of fresh peas but they have to be really, really fresh and then they are so sweet…unfortunately I was supposed to be picking some from my garden to have for lunch today but got a little ‘sidetracked’ and ended up eating them all in the garden and none made it into the kitchen…

  19. says

    Hah you are one brave soul to try a durian. It’s pretty much one of our favourite fruits in Singapore, they call it the Kind of Fruits there, but it’s such a special taste it’s very much a love it/hate it thing. I hate it myself, and my family ad friends all pooh-pooh me for that.
    Great pea stir fry , I see you haven’t made the same mistake as me, mistaking the english peas for sugar snaps 😉 One tip, use groundnut oil instead of olive oil for stirfries as they have a higher smoke point and is much better for high heat wokking!

    • says

      Hi Shuhan – I’m glad to find someone else who thinks Durian is weird. It’s so beautiful as a fruit though… just imagine if it was a giant mango inside or something… it would be the most popular fruit in the world!

      Normally I use peanut oil for stir-frying, but in this case I wanted the flavour of olive oil and I wasn’t doing super hardcore frying – just hot frying for a minute or so.

  20. says

    I bow to you …. bow, bow. I live among great durian eaters/connoisseurs and I just can’t get used to the smell … oh, the smell! I’ll take the peas any day over durians. And I find shelling peas very therapeutic :)

    • says

      Hi Ping – I found the smell much better than I thought it would be, but still not the world’s most pleasant thing 😀

  21. says

    Good grief.. that is one strange looking creature, er fruit, that durian is.. I’m already not a fan. I would not like eat them in a boat I would not eat them with a goat… sorry, my childhood coming back to me. Funny some kids don’t like peas.. I adore them and your recipe is spot on with the flavors you’ve got there!! I would eat these in a boat… xo Smidge

    • says

      Hehe, thanks Smidge – I’d say durian is definitely worth a try… apparently it’s one of those things that you either love or hate, so you never know… you might love it!

  22. says

    Durian? How fascinating! I’ve never heard of them. I’ll have to keep my eyes open, though I don’t recall ever seeing them. As for peas… I’m typically a hater. That said, I do love garlic and coriander, so maybe I would “eat my peas.” :)

    • says

      Hi Kristy – do let me know if you ever have occasion to try a durian… I’d love to know what you guys think! Do you have a chinatown or any asian markets near you? You could probably pick one up from there!

  23. says

    Would you believe that I was traveling in Asia for almost a year, seen durians everywhere and have never tried it. I haven’t realized it for such a long time. Wow, now I’m ashamed. So the only solution will be to go, find it somewhere, pay like 10x the price in Asia and eat it. And I love the final picture :)

    • says

      Hi Marta, alas yes – we paid almost €20 for this fruit and the bad thing is that only one variety is sold in Europe. Many of the ones in Asia have yellow flesh and are often better. This one isn’t the best which is a shame!

      Let me know if you’re able to find a good one though… I’m really interested what you think of it! :)

  24. says

    I like how you preserved your pea shells – great idea. I don’t think I’ve ever stir-fried peas… what a neat recipe and with these flavourings, I bet it was delicious. I’m always amazed by how much flavour olive oil and garlic impart – the basis of so many wonderful things! I’m not sure if I’ve ever had durian – too bad it wasn’t a juicy/flavourful one but I’m looking forward to your live rendition of the canned stuff!

    • says

      Hi Kelly – I love the smell of olive oil and garlic, maybe some chopped onion too, frying up in a pan. Fills the whole kitchen with this incredible aroma!!

  25. says

    Charles, your photos are so lovely. The simplicity and rustic quality of the backgroud really fits with the simplicity of the dish — and the green in the peas just pops. Your niece is hard core — eating durians at only three years of age! I could see these peas next to an asian-style fish dish. Yum!

    • says

      Hi Barb – she is hardcore indeed 😀 I can’t remember what I was eating at 3 but it definitely wasn’t stinky fruits!

  26. says

    Okay, I’m not a big fan of coriander, but this really looks too good to miss. I think it would add a really nice flavour to any dish. We have a dish that has the exact ingredients in it, except for the peas: replace them with diced potato and you’re on your way to a great meal :)

    • says

      Hi Fati – I find some coriander can be really bad. If you get a batch which is a bit old it can taste really terrible. Young stuff is delicious though!

      What’s the name of the potato dish… it sounds familiar, I was wondering if I’d had it before!

        • says

          Ah, not what I was thinking of at all, I’ve never heard of munazala, or the other name on the blog you linked. Sounds fantastic though – thanks a bunch, I’ll check it out!

  27. says

    I held my nose once so I could taste durian. I have such a tough time eating anything that doesn’t have a welcoming aroma. I ate it but then I ate vegemite once. :)

    I love peas and stir fried peas with coriander sounds perfect!

  28. says

    Dear Charles,

    When I was growing up in Malaysia, durian is almost as common as a banana and locals take to it like any other fruit. I believe there is a level of skill in choosing a durian, even locals in Asian counties might get conned by the seller especially for the more expensive varieties. I like durian but not to the extend I would go all out of my way to find it.

    This recipe is interesting as I have always preferred to have my peas fresh in a salad.

    • says

      Hi Chopinand – I totally agree, although alas I don’t possess the durian-choosing skill. It would seem that one shouldn’t expect a good durian in Europe though. Perhaps I can make a point of trying to taste one should I ever find myself in Asia again in the future!

    • says

      Thanks Karen – haha, for the durian, I don’t think I blame you, although it’s worth a try if you ever have a chance one day, just so you can say “I have”.

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