Saturday, August 27, 2011

Long Beans with Chili-Garlic Sauce

Wandering the farmer's market, we stumbled upon something called Chinese long beans. I'd never seen them before, and since I'm usually enthusiastic about most produce, I thought I'd give it a go. When I say long, I mean long. See here:
Be forewarned: this veggie does not achieve the esteemed status of asparagus or broccoli in my opinion, but the sauce it's stirfried in is quite yummy. The recipe for the sauce comes from the March-April 2010 issue of Cook's Illustrated. The recipe has been mildly tweaked. The original recipe calls for broccoli, which I highly recommend.

Long Beans with Chili Garlic Sauce (serves 3 as a main dish)
  • 1 1/2 lbs Chinese long beans, washed, trimmed and cut into inch-and-a-half pieces
  • 1/4 C vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 Tbs dry sherry
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • heaping table spoon of chili-garlic paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or red pepper powder
  • 1 tsp, plus 1 Tbs vegetable oil (peanut would probably work well too, but be advised that you may taste the peanut a bit)
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • Cooked rice
  • Chopped green onion for garnish
1. Whisk together the broth, sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, and chili-garlic paste.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the  garlic, red pepper, and 1 tsp oil.
3. Heat the remaining Tbs oil in a wok on high heat. When just beginning to smoke, add the beans and sprinkle with the sugar, stirring constantly. Cook for about 3 mins, until the beans begin to wither but maintain their crispness.
4. Add the garlic mixture, incorporate well, cook for <30 secs. Don't let the garlic burn. 
5. Add the broth mixture, stir constantly, as broth thickens, about 45 secs. 
6. Serve over rice and add green onion for garnish.
                                                 This was not an easy dish to photograph!

Kitchen Notes:BE CAREFUL INHALING WHEN MAKING THIS DISH! It is very spicy, and will make you cough. I like my food spicy, but this meal will still have a lot of flavor if you half the heat. I used basmati rice, simply because I had some to use up, but I don't recommend it, as the gentle flavors of the rice get lost in the heat of the sauce. I think that yaki soba noodles may be beautiful here, and will probably do that with some of the leftovers. The raw beans have a bitter smell when cut, so I imagine the sugar sprinkling is an important step to limit bitter flavor in the finished product.

Verdict? I am not usually texture averse, but the beans were too chewy and squeaky for me. I think they'd work better in a meal where they weren't the focal point, but mixed with many other vegetables. The flavor of the sauce, is terrific, and I can say from experience, goes great with broccoli. I think that typical green beans would work fine too--the beans absorbed the sauce perfectly.

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