I recently borrowed a large, coffee table cookbook from a friend – and Annette, I promise I will return it soon!! The book, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, by Andrea Nguyen, is one of those wonderful cookbooks that offers not only dishes and recipes but core cooking techniques and pantry basics as well as rich insights into the cuisine of Vietnam.
It came quite serendipitously, as I’d just gotten a ton – OK, a bag full – of just picked, gorgeous green beans from “East of the Mountains”. When we say “East of the Mountains” here in the Skagit County / Salish Sea area, we mean the Cascade Mountains, east of which are the fertile irrigated valleys that produce much of the nation’s apples, hops, sweet cherries, hops and much more. And green beans – and peas – East of the Mountains is the largest lentil production area in the country!
We Love Stir Fried Green Beans
Many Asian cuisines have some type of stir fried or flash fried green bean dish. Often the dish has a bit of heat, a bit of aroma via herbs such as Thai basil and aromatics like garlic or shallot, a bit of darkness via soy or Kecap Manis (kind of an Indonesian soy based ketchup) or Nam Pla (fish sauce).
Our own version(s) of this dish usually go like this – get some great green beans, put ’em in the fridge. They are so beautiful that you are seduced, you buy them without necessarily thinking “what then will I do with these?”
And that’s OK, at least in our house, because we’re always up for a quick flash fried green beans-with-pork-herbs-soy-and lots of garlic. The general idea is to first heat a big wok. Now, by “heat”, I mean we turn the heat on under the wok and go off to play Words with Friends until the smoke detector goes off – it’s our timer. Then flash fry the green beans in just a T of oil, a little garlic, some soy and some pork until everything is seared and tasty and the juice from the beans + the added liquids makes a lovely light sauce. Serve over rice. The problem is that it’s tough to properly cook the beans and the pork together and it’s inconvenient to cook them separately. One great solution is to use Vietnamese Caramelized Pork with your flash fried green beans. Read the rest of this entry »