Abundance of beans this garden season

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 6, 2016

My long beans are in abundance right now so I am always looking for ways to cook them before I freeze the extra. I much prefer my beans fresh. Some things taste just as well frozen but not green beans.


Long beans are edible at all stages of growth. Tender green leaves are an important food source in Africa and are prepared like spinach. Immature pods are used in the same way as snap beans. Peas (seeds) can be boiled as a fresh vegetable, or may be canned or frozen. Dry mature peas are suitable for boiling and canning and can be used in soups or salads.

Long beans are of a different genus than our usual green beans and are vigorous climbing annual vines. They are a member of the cowpea family and grow to about 18-inches long. Colors range from dark green to silver, burgundy and mosaic, which have pods that are speckled purple, red and green.

Long beans are an excellent source of iron, fiber, and vitamin B-1. Long beans are also called yard long beans, asparagus beans, bora, bodi, snake beans and Chinese long beans. China has many names for long beans including cheung kong tau. In India they are called lobia; kacang panjang in Indonesia; juroku sasage in Japan. As you see they are gown all over the world and can be grown year round in many places.

Long beans are crisp, tender and delicious .You can substitute them in recipes that use snap beans or string beans. I think they work best in Asian dishes. Prepare by cutting into 2-inch sections and deep-fry, stir-fry, steam or use in soups and salads. Another popular option is to chop them into very short sections and fry them in an omelet.

I like to use long beans in stir-fries with soy sauce, garlic, and hot peppers Long beans go well with any chopped meat like pork or chicken. My favorite recipe (given below) is long beans with pork and olives including the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar.

Grow some long beans and keep in mind that they are good for you. One cups contains 200 calories, 13 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber and 24 percent of the daily value for iron.

Add rice to this dish and it makes a complete meal.


Wok-Charred Long Beans with Black Olives

Trim and cut 1 ½ lbs. long beans into 2 inch pieces. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add beans; cook until crisp-tender, 1-2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer beans to a bowl of ice water, chill. Drain beans.

Heat 3 tbsp. canola oil in a 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat Add 4 oz. ground pork. Cook pork until browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork to a plate, leaving fat in skillet. Raise heat to high; add beans and cook, without stirring, until hot, about 2 .minutes. Toss beans; cook, without stirring until caramelized, 1 minute more. Add 2 tbsp. minced garlic, 2 tbsp. minced ginger, and 1 minced Thai chili (these are hot), cook for 1 minute. Add 1/3 cup chicken broth. 2 tbsp. Chinese black or balsamic vinegar, and 1 tbsp. soy sauce; cook until almost evaporated., about 2 minutes. Add ½ lb. halved and pitted dry-cured black olives and reserved pork, cook for 1 minute more. Delicious!

Peanuts go well with long beans. Try this recipe from ‘Gourmet’ August 2002.


Long Bean Salad

1 bunch long beans (1 ¼ lb.) trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

3 large shallots (sliced lengthwise and fried)

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced and fried

1 tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted

2 tbsp. salted roasted peanuts, finely chopped

1 tbsp. peanut oil

Garnish: Fresh cilantro and lime wedges

Cook beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain, then plunge into a large bowl of cold water to stop cooking. Drain beans well and pat dry. Toss beans with remaining ingredients and season with salt.