Delicious Thai flavors infuse this dish of long beans and pork.
We’ve been eating a lot of yard-long beans at house of Annie lately. They are a hardy bean and are full of protein and vitamins. We eat them almost once a week in this house.
One of the reasons I love them is that they keep very well in the fridge. I find that now that I live in very hot, humid Kuching, a lot of my green leafy vegetables spoil faster than when we lived in California. And now that I’m working, I have less time to shop for groceries—this means I have to buy most of my veggies on the weekend when I have time to market. Being hardy, the long beans are my go-to vegetable near the end of the week when I’ve cooked up all the leafy vegetables.
One Harvest, Three Meals
Just recently, my friend Maggie (the wonderful gardener who gave us the sweet potatoes for our Pandan Spiral Moon Cake recipe) shared a large harvest of her beans with me. We ate them three times that week! I used one batch in a regular Chinese-style stir-fry, then another batch in fried rice.
Being that I cook this vegetable a lot these days, I started looking around for a new way to cook them as stir frying them with different Chinese sauces was beginning to get boring. I’ve done them with black bean sauce, brown bean sauce, with sambal belacan, with firm tofu, with shrimp and chicken…you get the picture. As you can see, they really go far in many applications. But there are always other ways to cook them.
Meant to Be
So I was hunting around and this one Epicurious recipe caught my eye. The ingredients had Thai written all over it. I had just finished making Ramadan Chicken a week before and many of the spices needed for this dish were still leftover in my fridge. It was meant to be.
I even had the cilantro root needed, tucked into my freezer (tip: when you find cilantro with the roots intact, don’t toss out the roots—save them in a freezer bag and stash them in your freezer—they make a wonderful addition to many Thai dishes).
We still don’t have a blender or food processor (living here in Malaysia has made us depend on whatever we have on hand as we’re trying not to accumulate anything so we won’t be overladen when we have to move again) so when I asked if Nate would be willing to help me make this dish by pounding the spice ingredients in the mortar, he willingly agreed.
Stir-Fried Pork with Long Beans Recipe
adapted from Epicurious.com
1 stalk lemongrass, use only bottom 3 inches (1st outer layer removed)
2 red chillies (original recipe called for 3 dried Thai chillies with seeds, you decide based on the level of spice you can handle)
3 Tbsp minced shallots (about 2-3 shallots)
2 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3-4 garlic cloves)
2 Tbsp dried shrimp, rehydrated in some water
1 tsp minced cilantro root (or stems if you can’t get the roots)
1 tsp lime/lemon juice (original recipe called for Kaffir lime or regular lime zest—I found the juice worked just as well)
1 tsp minced peeled galangal (or substitute with ginger if you cannot get galangal)
1 tsp kosher salt (I used Himalayan pink salt)
5 black peppercorns
1 tsp belacan (shrimp paste), that had been dry-roasted
Aromatics for Spice Paste
1/2 lb long beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 lb boneless pork shoulder (or tenderloin)
3 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp grated palm sugar or light brown sugar
3 medium Kaffir lime leaves, ribs discarded and leaves sliced very thin
1. Make the paste. Mince the lemongrass and cut the chillies and smaller pieces. Add lemongrass, chillies, shallots, garlic, dried shrimp (without water, but save the water), cilantro root, lemon juice, galangal, salt, peppercorns, and belacan into a mortar and pound until you get a smooth paste with your pestle.
2. Slice pork into thin slices against the grain. Put aside.
3. Heat your wok on high heat. Add peanut/vegetable oil and heat till shimmering.
4. Add the paste and stir-fry making sure to keep the paste moving so that it doesn’t burn. Once it starts to smell nicely fragrant, in about a minute, add the pork, making sure to mix it with the paste well. Spread the pork in one layer and leave for 30 seconds to a minute then flip.
5. Add beans, and fish sauce and palm sugar. Toss until beans are coated in paste. If the paste looks like it is drying out, add a bit of the dried shrimp water (about 1/4 cup). Continue to toss beans and pork every so often and add more water if the paste looks dry. Beans should be cooked in roughly 3-5 minutes (depending on how crunchy or tender you want your beans). Adjust your heat if the paste is threatening to burn.
6. Once beans and pork are cooked, turn heat off and toss in finely shredded kaffir lime leaves.
7. Dish out and serve with rice.
Initially, I was planning to just make this dish without the meat component. But then I realized that I did have some lean pork in the freezer so I decided to throw it in to complete the dish in its original recipe. Personally I think that even without it, it would be wonderful as the spice ingredients are plenty flavorful. So your call on the pork (and I’m sure chicken or shrimp would also work as a replacement).
Another thing I changed in the recipe was to not bother with the step of parboiling the beans. I felt that that was just too humbug and would be one more thing I would have to wash. Instead, I just added the beans right into my wok after putting in the pork and adding a bit of water to cook it through in a bit more time. The beans cooked through completely and was perfectly fine.
Nate totally LOVED this dish and could not get over how amazing the flavor components were. I could not get over how I had not chanced upon this recipe before. It was a really good combination and I’m glad I gave it a try. You will have to just trust me on this and get yourselves some yard-long green beans (or if you cannot find them, I’m sure French beans will work too) to try this recipe. It is seriously good.
Do you have any other ways to cook long beans? Leave a comment and share your recipe!