Chinese long beans
I have tried to keep up with my personal farmer and his vegetable garden this summer by gathering and preparing the goods for the table. Just a few footsteps from our door we've picked strawberries, rhubarb, tomatoes -- green for frying and red, yellow and orange fresh or in sauce -- green & red peppers, jalapeños, banana peppers, kohlrabi (oh so crisply satisfying dipped in hummus), beets, peas, carrots, garlic, scallions, sweet corn, cucumbers, zucchini, bush beans and pole beans. From the herb bed: basil, parsley, thyme, chives, sage and rosemary.
While ordering seeds from his piles of catalogs back in January's blue ice days, Don discovered Chinese long beans and ordered some and even built a special trellis. These long beans are also known as long-podded cowpeas, asparagus beans, snake beans, chopstick beans, yardlong beans, dau gok in Cantonese and jiang dou (豇豆) in Standard Mandarin. They are thua fak yao (ถั่วฝักยาว) in Thai, right Dee Dee? (I sort of feel that I shouldn't say that out loud.) When the first beans were ready to pick, I was impressed with their length, but I asked myself, Does size matter? I am a green bean lover. When I go to Paris, a supper of haricots verts, baguette, Roquefort and a glass of red wine suits me very well after a day out on the rues. I like a thin, delicate bean, with a warm, mellow flavor and texture that is tender and smooth.
Chinese long beans next to a handful of bush beans;
the long beans are about 18"
As we learned more about Chinese long beans, we discovered that they are all the rage in fancy restaurants. Chefs have fun sculpting them into different concoctions, like an entertainer does with balloon animals. I decided to create nests, and Don suggested the little onions that were strangely anchored on the surface of the soil under the scallion leaves, for "eggs".
I am trés heureux to report that Chinese long beans are délicieux! They are tender and warmly savory, the way haricots verts are. And you get to create something clever if you want. These are what I call bird's nest beans, which I believe my tongue tells me is les haricots verts d'un nid de l'oiseau in French and 鳥的巢穴豆子 in Chinese, but I could be wrong.