If you haven’t tried Long Beans yet, I hope you’ll find your local Asian Market or Farmer’s Market and seek them out. Once cooked, they look similar to standard green beans, but when you serve a platter of Long Beans and Mock Duck in Black Bean Sauce, everyone will want to know how you made green beans taste so much better than usual.
Call them Asparagus Beans, Yardlong Beans, Pea Beans, Snake Beans, or one of their many regional monikers, I’ve always referred to them as Long Beans. Back in the mid-80’s, in my very first garden, I planted seeds from exotic vegetables I had never had access to in small-town Illinois. One such planting was of Yardlong bean seeds I had ordered from a seed catalog. The plants grew well, I harvested the first few meals of a nutty, densely textured green bean that made your typical green bean seem stringy and bland. Then, in one tragic day, a swarm of bean eating beetles arrived in my garden, leaving behind only the lacy remnants of long bean leaves that had been devoured.
I learned a painful lesson about gardening in the middle of acres and acres of soybeans. A mob of hungry beetles might just blow into town and blow right back out again, leaving you only the taste memory of those delectable beans.
What Are Long Beans?
Long beans are similar to green beans in appearance and use, but are actually from the cowpea family. They are picked while immature, so that the pods are tender and the seeds are small and mild. The flavor of long beans is often compared to asparagus, if you can imagine a green bean-asparagus hybrid. I’m not sure that I get that flavor, but I do find the taste of long beans much more complex and interesting than regular green beans. They stand up to strong flavors, like this black bean and garlic sauce.
Cooking with Long Beans
As much as I love the flavor and texture of long beans, I also love the easy prep. There are no strings to strip, and the length makes in very easy to chop the entire bunch in a few seconds. The beans really shine when dry-fried, which intensifies the flavor and juicy texture of the meaty beans.
If you don’t have a wok, buy one like mine here.
Ingredients for Long beans and Mock Duck in Black Bean Sauce
- First you need your long beans. They are sold in bunches, the bunch weighs about a pound. You can make this with regular green beans, in a pinch.
- If you read this blog, you know I have a thing for mock duck. It’s always in my pantry, ready to throw into my dinner with very little effort. Drain, squeeze, tear into bite-sized chunks, and you are good to go. Mock Duck is Seitan, or wheat gluten, and it has a texture that’s meaty without being too meat-like. You can sub tofu or another mock meat, too. Order some here.
- Black Bean Garlic Sauce is made from fermented black soybeans, and it’s packed with umami. You’ll notice that it’s the ony salt I add to the dish-it’s salty enough. “>Buy it here.
- Hot Chili Oil is sesame oil that has been infused with hot chilis. It adds heat, and also a sesame flavor. You add it to the sauce because you don’t use it for frying, just flavor. Buy a bottle here.
- I used a red Fresno, which is a mild red chili, but you could use a hotter one, or a green jalapeno if you can’t find red.
- Vegetable stock, sugar, garlic and scallions complete the dish.
- I used avocado oil, but you can use canola or vegetable oil. as long as you use a neutral, high heat oil.
Long Beans and Mock Duck in Black Bean Sauce
- 1 bunch long beans cut in 1-inch pieces
- 2 large scallions slivered
- 1 15 ounce can mock duck torn in bite-sized pieces
- 1 large red chili slivered
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoon vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon black bean garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon organic sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili oil
- cooked rice or noodles if desired
- First, cut the tips from the beans, then cut the beans in bite-sized pieces, reserve. Sliver the scallions and reserve.
- Drain the mock duck and tear into bite-sized pieces. reserve. Prep the garlic and red chili and reserve.
- Place your wok or heavy saute pn over high heat, and let it get very hot. Drizzle in the oil and then add the mock duck and red chili. Stir fry to sear.
- Add the beans and stir fry until crisp-tender. Add the garlic toward the end so it doesn't burn. Stir in the sauce and cook for a few more seconds, then stir in the scallions. Serve hot.