"Seeeeeeeee how long the bean is?" Who knows what I was saying at this garden club talk, but this is a strong possibility.
If you've grown this bean, you know how fast (and thus fun) it grows, dangling down in pairs and ready to cook in your favorite recipe for beans. My favorite recipe is my mom's, and it appears in this month's (May 2018) Better Homes and Gardens magazine. My mom (and Chinese cooks) like to deep fry these beans as they are sturdier than a French filet type and stand up to longer cooking times, more intense cooking methods, and stronger spices. I also like to cut them to size and throw them in a roasting pan along with a chicken and root vegetables. While a more delicate bean may turn to mush, the yardlong bean holds up beautifully.
The other day, I was talking to my friend Iz whose family is from Mexico. He said his family has been growing these beans for as long as he could remember - though they called it asparagus bean. Whether you know it as the Chinese long bean, yardlong bean, or asparagus bean, it's time to sow your seeds now (prepare to have something for the bean to climb). You can find seeds online - and while you're shopping, consider looking for a dark red variety called the 'red noodle bean'. It tends to darken once cooked, but in the garden, it is stunning and very different. Iz likes to harvest his asparagus beans young and saute them with some bacon and shallots, but also will let the ones he misses grow large in their pods and then cook them up as shelled beans.
What's your favorite way to use long beans?
I'm Wendy Kiang-Spray, gardener, home cook, and author of The Chinese Kitchen Garden. Learn more about the book here. Enjoy the blog and be sure to like The Chinese Kitchen Garden Facebook page for notifications when there are new posts.