Enjoying Rice and Beans
June 8 (Tuesday) Cooking Techniques: Beans or Grains
Beans can be boiled, baked, stewed, sautéed or cooked as soup. For grains like rice, it can be boiled, fried, steamed or even soup, too. There are many ways to cook these two kinds of staple (main) food depending on the occasion that will be held. It can be partnered with meat, like pork and beans, rice paella, jambalaya, et cetera.
Here in our place, Bicol-Philippines, we often cook beans (string beans, especially) with coconut milk. This kind of beans can be an extender or verdura (vegetable) to a very special fish soup or sinigang (mostly bangus or milkfish with vinegar and vegetable extenders like halve tomatoes, sliced horseradish, string beans and peachy or Chinese cabbage). You can also boil it with little salt. Beans are good sources of protein but some people evade this food because of fear on the uric content of it. One time, my Filipino second officer can’t help eating mung beans or mongo beans. Later, in the evening, he suffered from aching joints because his doctor advised him to evade beans, especially mongo beans due to its high uric content.
Meanwhile, I had great admiration for Greeks because they’ll never tire eating beans, whether it’s boiled, stewed or cooked as soup. They almost eat any kinds of beans; they said, it grows abundantly in Greece. The most popular bean soup is lentils soup (they said it is usually associated with the Lenten season especially for fasting). Small white beans are also cooked as soup (called fasolia) with lots of tomato whole (usually bought in cans). The big kidney beans is usually baked with tomato paste and sauce; it is boiled first and we used to remove the skin or bean coverings. Split chick peas is boiled in just a short period of time (usually 15-20 minutes). Black eyed beans is usually boiled then coated with olive oil and dill weed (whether dried or fresh) and little salt. Garbanzos is also boiled, coverings removed (use soft cloth then squeeze the beans to remove the sheets); then boiled to soften. By the way, mongo beans is popular among Filipinos and other Asian countries. I usually make a soup out of it every Friday onboard ship usually with roasted pork feet. Another cook gave me a hint that the best way to enhance its flavor is to sauté it first before you stew, bake of make soup out of it.
As for the grains, rice is usually for Asians. The are short and long grain rice, glutinous rice and we used to call ‘enhanced’ rice (usually with flavor). I may add also the parboiled rice. Greeks used to boil it with slices of lemon (remove the slices after the first boiling). They usually like it with mixed vegetable (with bacon, shrimp, onion, garlic and fried egg tidbits) fried together and serve with tomato sauce on top. Rice soup or Greeks used to call it fish soup (avgolemono) is usually associated with boiled fish. Boil the fish (along with carrot strips and onion halves) together with rice. The preparation is tedious because you have to separate the soup, mixed with lemon and egg (strained) then back to the pan again. To serve, you can either separate the fish and the boiled carrots and onion and serve the softened boiled rice as soup. Wow, I’ll say it’s three-in-one meal; it’s already complete (go-grow-glow foods or carbohydrates, protein-rich and regulating foods)!
Beans and Grains in history
From the Holy Book, we read the famous story of Joseph, where he directed the pharaoh to build storehouses for beans and grains to save Egypt from famine for seven years.
It was also discovered in the 60s from the excavated pyramids of Egypt that beans and grains can be stored for a long time.
Even the Indians of Central and South Americas stored beans and grains for future consumption, especially when food supplies are scarce.
The famous merchant and traveler Marco Polo of Italy discovered pasta (product of wheat grains) in China during the reign of dynasties in the mainland. Until now, Chinese foods use a lot of beans and grains (rice vermicelle, bean curds-tokwa or tofu among others). Sprouted mongo or toge is my favorite (sauteed in carrot strips and little meat (pork) cubes.
Almost all countries of the world are storing these staple foods for economic reasons. Hoarding of rice and other grains by unscrupulous businessmen are punishable by law.