I feel like I am still in an exploratory phase. An exploratory phase of cooking. I am not sure if it will ever end, but it seems to me like there are constantly new things I’d like to try eating. Beyond new grains like kasha and kaniwa, or new heirloom beans, I will always scour new recipes. As I learned in Colombia, there are a host of new fruits and vegetables to explore, too.
While I may not be entirely thrilled with my closest ethnic grocer, it is still an ethnic grocer with produce I have yet to try eating. I once had a goal of trying all the new-to-me veggies at Bestwin and Sunny’s, but I can only tackle so many new ingredients at once. As I am unsure of the ethnic produce available in Texas (people keep trying to convince me that there is a dearth of vegetables there, but I protest!), I should capitalize on trying new veggies. In honour of the upcoming Chinese New Year, I popped some Chinese long beans into my cart. Only later did I figure out what I wanted to do…
I found this quick and easy Chinese veggie dish, with flavourful spices while still being able to highlight the long beans. I really liked the play between the Szechuan peppercorns and star anise with the garlicky vegetables. The peanuts added a great crunch and texture.
So, the long beans? Not my favourite. If I had to choose, the thin French green beans (haricot verts) are definitely my preferred green bean. The long beans are more chewy pod, less beany and not as flavourful as the French variety. I’d prefer the standard green beans, too, and would likely use them when making this again.
But hey, at least now I know. I will never go about thinking “I never tried the Chinese long beans.. maybe they are better than the rest?”. Even if the long beans are more authentic in this dish, the regular green beans would do just fine, as well.
Do you like discovering new veggies?
Szechuan Green Beans and Red Pepper
Adapted from Taste of the East
1 tsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp Aleppo chile flakes
3 cups Chinese long beans (or green beans), sliced into 1″ pieces
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp low-sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
1/8 tsp star anise, ground
1/8 tsp Szechuan pepper, ground (or black pepper)
1/4 cup peanuts, toasted and crushed
1. In a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic, red pepper, and chili flakes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
2. Add the green beans and cook until just tender, approximately 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Once the green beans are bright green and crisp, add the rice vinegar, tamari, star anise, and ground pepper. Stir well to combine. Garnish with the peanuts prior to serving.
Serves 4 as a side.