Chinese long beans
I was introduced to long beans by my Italian Mother-in-law. The secret is that these long beans are not just Chinese but also Italian. The seeds are sold as aspargus beans. Those of you with gardens should think of growing them. They are better when they are under a foot long. They require a trellis, that is the only drawback. In Chinese cooking it is one of the vegetables that is not blanched, in Italian it is blanched
Cut in the usual 2 inch lengths. Blanch briefly(I am sorry it smells bad) after draining drop them in a oil and vinegar dressing with the emphasis being on the vinegar. Minced garlic and onion can be added. They are really good.
re: miss margie
I found two types of long bean seeds at Uwajimaya in Seattle -- one is called "Red Noodle." This was a weird year for many types of vegetables on the wet side of the mountains here in the Northwest. I'm in the Columbia River Gorge, and while my (co-mingled) bean plants quickly outgrew their bamboo tipi trellis, they are just now starting to bloom and set little beans. However, I gave my brother who lives in Baker City, Oregon some of the seeds, and his flourished. They blanched and froze a bunch. I will try another year. When I go to a Chinese restaurant or dim sum place, they are one of the things I consistently order, with the little smoky patches and lots of garlic and sesame oil. By the way, I also tried to grow gai lan, and did manage to eat some of it, although the damn deer liked it too. I'm hoping the remaining little bit will go to seed and naturalize.
In addition to the dry-fried style, there are some interesting Sichuan pickles made from them. Normally they are fairly spicy / sour, and a little bit smoky tasting (almost like a cigarette-butt taste, but not in a bad way, if that's possible). I couldn't find a good recipe online quickly, but I'll post one if I can find one.
Fuchsia Dunlop has two, ex "Land of Plenty" and "Revolutionary Chinese Cooking." I've made some slight changes:
Sichuan Pickling Brine for Sichuan Pickled Vegetables
四川泡菜 Sìchuān Pàocài
2-¼ cups water
¼ cup rock or sea salt
4 dried chilies
½ tsp whole Sichuan pepper
2 tsp strong rice wine or Vodka
½ of a star anise
1 tbsp brown sugar
One 1” piece of fresh ginger, unpeeled
One piece of cassia bark or 1/3 of a cinnamon stick
1 ¼ pound of beans (or vegetables like daikon, carrots.)
One 1-quart pickle jar with a good sealable lid.
1.) Bring the water to a boil with the salt. When the salt is completely dissolved remove from heat to cool.
2.) Place the cooled water in a very clean pickle jar. Add the other brine ingredients and stir.
3.) Clean the green beans (or other vegetables) thoroughly and allow to dry completely. Cut the green beans (or vegetables) into smaller pieces (or chunks) and place in the pickle jar. Make sure all the beans (or vegetables) are fully covered by the brine. You may have to place something on top of them like a ceramic dish in order to do this. Seal the lid and store in a cool dark place for at least 24 hours. Flavors improve the longer you can leave them and are excellent after one week.
4.) You might notice a slight fizzing when you unseal the jar – all part of the fermentation process. As you eat the beans (or vegetables) you can replenish the jar, adding more salt, sugar and wine to keep the brine good and salty.
Hunan Pickled Vegetables
湖南泡菜 Húnán Pàocài
2 cups water
4 tsp salt
4 tsp crushed yellow rock sugar (or white sugar)
½ tbsp Chinese Clear Grain Spirits (40-65% proof) or Vodka
3 pickled jalapenos and 2 tbsp of brine from the jar
Wrap in cheesecloth:
¾” piece of fresh ginger, unpeeled and sliced
2 scallions cut into pieces
Handful of dried chilies
½ tsp of ground Sichuan pepper
¼ tsp of fennel seeds
3 star anise
2-3 pieces of cassia or 1-2 pieces of cinnamon
1 piece of cardamom, slightly crushed
5 peeled garlic cloves
Use any or all of the following: Long beans, chilies, daikon, bell pepper strips, white cabbage or carrots.
1.) Place the salt, sugar and 2 cups of water in a clean pickle jar that has a tight-fighting lid. Stir to dissolve. Add the rice wine or vodka, pickled jalapenos, jalapeno brine and bundled spices.
2.) Fill the jar with the fresh vegetables that have been cut into bite-size pieces or strips. Seal the jar and store in a dark cool place for at least 24 hours.
3.) Veggies can be eaten on their own or as an appetizer or relish. They can also be stir-fried with ground meat and chili. Flavor of the brine will improve with age. You can keep replenishing the veggies in the jar as you go, occasionally replacing the spices. If not using on a daily basis, refrigerate.
Fry some Thai red curry paste in oil, add in 3 tbs of coconut cream and fry till oil rises, toss in chopped long beans and stir fry till tender, sprinkling (not pouring) water if you need to. Depending on what brand of curry paste you use, you may need to adjust for salt or add in a dash of fish sauce or what have you. The spicy curried coconut milk clinging to the beans is just delicious.
One of my favorite preparations is to cut them into 2" length, heat a wok to inferno, add generous amount of peanut oil and working quickly add equal measures of minced garlic & ginger, red pepper flakes to taste, then add the beans. Stir fry just until beans are cooked but still crunchy (~ 5 mins.), then drizzle with dark soy. Continue cooking for a few minutes longer until the soy caramelizes, and the beans are coated. Salt to taste. Similar to Chinese-style dry-cooked beans but w/o having to deep-fry them.
The classic Chinese dish using them is Szechwan Green Beans, or what is some times called dry fried beans. It shouldn't be hard to find recipes on the web, but it does actually involve some deep frying, or as Barbara Kafka puts it, blanching in oil. She (in Vegetable Love) describes them as cowpeas in the shell, and opines that they are starchy and chewy compare to the New World ('regular') green beans. They can be use like the regular ones (esp if cut into shorter lengths), but may require longer cooking.
I don't know of a dish that takes advantage of their long length. The norm in Chinese cooking is to cut food into bite size pieces before cooking.