Sunday, June 2, 2013

Yardlong Beans


I went to Fubonn on Memorial Day in spite of the weather. It makes a very nice bicycle adventure in good weather, and a slightly chancy but still enjoyable one in less nice weather. I got some of the usual stuff, but I also got a jar of powdered ginger drink, a box of dashi sachets, a very ordinary orange soda pop with the most remarkable Japanese packaging, a box of preserved plums that are too icky to eat, and because I am trying to branch out from the tofu and broccoli rut, I got a can of braised gluten and a pack of yardlong beans.

I was skeptical about the beans being actual beans. Once I cooked them and the beans popped out of the pods it became apparent that they really are just that, albeit a tad spooky looking. I like green beans in any case, but these are somehow particularly good. They are more tender than any western style of green bean I've eaten so far, and they have a more subtle bean flavor.

a handful of yardlong beans
half an onion, sliced quite thin
teaspoon minced fresh ginger
sesame oil

can of gluten tidbits

oil for cooking

Remove any little stems left in the beans, then cut the beans into manageable lengths. Put a skillet on medium hot with some oil and a pinch of salt. When the oil starts shimmying in the pan, throw in the beans and stir them around to coat them with oil and get them good and hot. Add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover it to trap the steam. When the water is evaporated, add the onions and ginger, and a little more oil if needed. Stir until the onions are brown, then add the tidbits. Stir until heated through, serve with rice, and hot sauce if you like it.

Nothing special going on here as far as technique, but the ingredients are a change of pace for me. The beans are one thing, the gluten thingummies are another. Dad used to call them vegetarian abalone, and they are also called seitan. Whatever you call them, I called them disgusting when I was a kid. I'm not sure about them now. They are squishy and chewy, and I don't know if they actually have a taste of their own, because if you buy them in a can they are packed in broth and oil.They aren't precisely fibrous, or sticky, and they are a little spongy, hence their ability to absorb flavoring agents. But they do go very well with yardlong beans, so there's that.

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