Saturday, September 19, 2009
It must be the combination of my Chinese heritage and my foodie-ism (is that even a word?), but Asian food markets are to me what candy shops are to little kids. I can spend (and likely have spent) hours in one, much to the frustration of my boyfriend. Twenty types of bean sauce? I'm fascinated. Fresh tofu? Is there anything tastier? (Yes, tofu DOES have its own flavor and yes, I love it!) Sweet black sesame-filled buns? Swooooon.
But my favorite has got to be the fresh produce section. Row after row of familiar and exotic (even to me) fruits and vegetables. And they're darned cheap too! After missing out on fresh green beans due to a hectic summer at work, these pretty Chinese yard-long beans easily seduced me during our recent Asian market outing.
As the name suggests, long beans can grow up to 3 feet long! They taste similar to the green beans you're used to but are both chewier and less sweet. You can find more information about them here and my fast but flavorful stir-fry recipe after the jump.
Chinese Long Beans Stir-fry [Printable Recipe]
Serves 4 to 6
XIAOLU'S NOTE: These beans should be available at most Asian markets, but you can substitute green beans for a somewhat different but still delicious texture and taste.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons of preserved mustard (za cai)
3 dried red chili peppers, or to taste
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch (about 1 1/2 lbs) long beans
1 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
Snap or cut all the ends off of the long beans, then wash and dry them. Slice the beans into 1 to 1 1/2" pieces. Roughly chop the preserved mustard and mince the garlic.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Break the dried red peppers in half and add them to the pan. Throw in the preserved mustard and garlic, and cook until fragrant, stirring frequently to avoid burning the garlic (which turns it bitter and gross).
Add the long beans and cook several minutes until it begins to soften. Mix in the oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar. Continue cooking until beans are tender but not mushy (but long beans are supposed to be a little chewy so don't judge them by green bean standards). Taste and add salt if necessary. Serve hot with steamed rice and chili garlic sauce.