Although I grew up in California, where fresh vegetables are abundant, the only peas I tasted were canned (turning them mushy and an unappetising khaki) or frozen. The frozen variety is superior, especially the sweet and tender petits pois. I prefer them to fresh peas, which can be starchy and tough unless served within hours of being picked - not an option in Hong Kong. Another advantage is that frozen peas are available year-round. Petits pois with pancetta and parmesan (pictured) This is one of my 'one-dish meals' I sometimes cook when I'm tired - all the ingredients are in my fridge or freezer so there is no need for last-minute grocery shopping. I love to eat the peas while sitting on my bed, propped up by lots of pillows and watching a video. 1/2 tsp oil 100 grams pancetta 2 cloves garlic 4 cups frozen petits pois 1/3 cup cream 1/3 cup grated parmesan Freshly ground black pepper Remove the rind from the pancetta then cut the meat into strips. Peel the garlic and chop roughly. Heat the oil in a heavy pan, add the pancetta and garlic and cook until light brown. Add the petits pois (no need to defrost) and stir for about 30 seconds then sprinkle in a little water. Cover the pan and cook the peas for about five minutes over a medium heat until defrosted and tender. Remove the lid, stir in the cream and ground black pepper, then cook over a high heat to reduce the cream. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan. Serves two. Petits pois with baby onions and lettuce This is my version of the classic dish petits pois a la Francaise. Some recipes have you braise the peas extensively, which gives them the unpleasant colour of canned peas. I prefer to cook them less to ensure a lighter flavour. If I don't have any tender, inner leaves of Romaine in the fridge, I use Taiwanese A-choi. Lemon zest - the thin, yellow surface of the skin - is not essential but it boosts the flavour. Don't include any of the bitter white pith under the zest. Remove the zest with a zester (which will create long, thin strands) or a rasp, which gives the finest, most delicate and fragrant results. If you use a vegetable peeler you will have to chop the zest with a knife. These peas are usually served as a separate course, but are also delicious as a side dish with roast chicken. 12 baby onions, peeled 4 cups frozen petits pois The inner leaves of three heads of Romaine, or three small heads of A-choi, shredded Zest of half a lemon 80 grams unsalted butter 1/2 tsp sugar Salt and pepper to taste Chopped parsley Bring a pot of water to the boil then blanch the onions and drain. Melt 50 grams of butter in a heavy pan and add the onions, a sprinkling of salt and 3/4 of a cup of water. Bring to the boil then lower heat, cover the pan with the lid and simmer for about 10 minutes until the onions are tender. Add the petits pois, lettuce, lemon zest, sugar, salt, pepper and more water if necessary. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until peas are very tender and most of the water is absorbed (if it is too watery, cook uncovered on high heat to evaporate the water). Remove from heat, taste for seasoning, then swirl in the butter and sprinkle with parsley. Serves 3-4. Chicken with petits pois and tarragon Serve the chicken with rice or boiled or mashed potatoes to soak up the sauce. 4 chicken thighs 2 medium shallots, peeled and diced 1 tsp oil 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced 1/4 cup chicken broth, diluted if canned 1/4 cup dry white wine 1/2 cup heavy cream 2 cups frozen petits pois 1 slightly heaped tsp chopped fresh tarragon Salt and pepper to taste Sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a heavy skillet and sear the chicken, skin-side down, then turn over and sear the other side. Remove the thighs from the pan and pour off most of the fat. Sprinkle in the shallots and garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth and wine and stir with a wooden spoon, collecting the tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Put the thighs back into the pan, cover with a lid and simmer until cooked (about 10 minutes). Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm. Add the heavy cream, frozen petits pois and half the chopped tarragon and simmer over a medium-high heat until the sauce is reduced and the peas cooked (five minutes). Stir in the remaining tarragon and adjust seasonings. Serves two.