Try these tasty Asian green beans in your next stir fry or salad!
Chinese long beans are the amazingly tasty green beans of my dreams. I hesitate to use any other in my cooking anymore, and they’re simply the best I’ve grown in my garden. They are super producers growing quickly up to lengths of 1 ½ feet or more. Perfectly crispy when raw, I would munch on them while collecting a couple pounds of them every other day. But, without a garden currently, I source them fresh from the produce section of the Asian market.
Still a legume, they differ than regular green beans and are actually more related to black eyes and crowder peas. They are a members of the cowpea family, and go by a few other names, such as snake beans, asparagus beans and yard long beans. They are harvested as immature pods, and picked before the peas develop inside. When you select them, they usually come in long bundles tied together. They should be long and smooth; any bumpiness is a sign that the peas inside have started to mature. Before using, discard any bumpy sections. Often, there is a choice between dark and light green, and even purple. purple varieties are more common in India and Indian groceries. Usually, i grab a bundle of the dark green ones, mainly for the color.
The taste of Chinese long beans are of a rather strong green bean flavor, and they are not as sweet as other types. They are excellent raw; crispy and juicy. Or cut into short lengths and bruised with a mortar and pestle, make a great addition to any salad. The most common preparation though, is to fry them in a wok or skillet, with a small amount of oil. The goal is to blister them until enough have browned up and shriveled a slight bit. about 6-7 minutes on a medium heat. I cook these separately to ensure they are done to perfection.
They are an exceptional addition to a stir fry, and pair well with sweet red peppers, mushrooms and cashews. A mainstay of Sichuan cuisine, they have an affinity for hot chili pepper oil, toasted sesame oil and garlic. These beans also make great side dish material, but they really shine in one of my favorite dishes; Thai papaya salad.
If you haven’t tried Chinese long beans before, you can find them at your local Asian market. Pick some up to experiment with today! Garden seeds are also available through Kitazawa seed company. Try ordering them as a featured dish at a Sichuan restaurant or a tasty Thai papaya salad!