Long Beans with Chicken & Tomato - Simple Cooking
Turn Long Beans Into a Colourful Dish
I learned to love vegetables...
My parents had a bountiful vegetable garden and several fruit bearing trees when I was younger. They grew a huge-type white squash, round red squash, bitter melon, horseradish leafy plant, okra (lady’s finger), chayote (sayote), long beans, eggplant and tomato. There was no growing of herbs. The full fruit-bearing trees were a tall avocado tree, a line-up of papaya, local guava trees and a miniature Japanese guava tree in the centre of my ma’s lawn bearing fruit larger than a softball; and then, there was the water apple tree (red tambis) and two robust mango trees. At harvest time, my ma sells them in her “sari-sari” (convenience) store built in front of the house. “Sari-sari” is a Filipino term meaning “mix”. On mid-days, preparing for what to cook for lunch, neighbours would ask permission to let them inside the gate so they can freshly pick horseradish leaves (malunggay) fresh from the plant. In a later hub, I will be featuring “Soup with Maluggay and Chicken”. We also had so much papaya that in some occasions someone from the neighbourhood would be stealing them in the middle of the night. There will be markings on the remaining fruits bruised by stones from slingshots and scrapes that get touched by long sticks. My pa once muttered, “I would readily give a papaya away for free if they ask. All they do is to ask.”
In my childhood, I was a picky eater especially picking out my vegetables from my plate. Sounds familiar? May it be lunch or dinner time, ma used to convince us with her finger pointing at the dish,
“Don’t leave the table until you finish it.” “Eat your green vegetables. It will make you healthy and strong.”
She was firm and meant every word she said. My kids had loved only a few certain vegetables when they were little such as red squash, white squash, eggplant and the leafy greens, but do they still? No more. It is the reverse. They now pick which veggie they like to eat. Sadly, they do not even touch the squash anymore which is full of vitamins!
In this hub, I would like to share on cooking Long Beans (String Beans) or Chinese Beans. This is one green vegetable that I look for when my craving would take me to a Chinese market. The long bean has many names depending where they are grown. In the Philippines and the region where I come from, we call long beans as "batong”; no, no, not Chinese beans, hahaha! If you have some growing in your garden, maybe you want to nickname them, seems cool? Like for example: whippies, Jack’s strings (the giant Jack & the Beanstalk) or miley. I have learnt to love long beans growing up and if I have long beans in my garden, I would give it a name- “Endless”. In the morning, I would check out the garden and say, “How are you hanging in there, my endless love?” Okay, I hope my daughter is not reading this or she’ll say, “Mom, you’re so lame!” *smile*
Actually, long beans hang in pairs. The beans look like a loving pair! They grow and dangle attached to a common vine and seems to grow endlessly until they’re ready to be harvested. I am glad my kids love to eat long beans from my cooking.
Simple Recipe: Long Beans with Chicken (plus garlic, tomatoes and onions)
From the Asian market is where I get to buy long beans, Chinese beans. I like them healthy green, smooth skinned, fairly not too thin and in a bunch. A bunch of Chinese beans gives twice big portions to cook, saving half for next time. Pick the fresh bunch and you can tell how fresh they are if you try to snap the tip of a string bean. Now, do not attempt to be snapping them in half in the market just to perfectly choose the right one. They should be firm and plump similar to choosing fresh asparagus. The thin ones look wrinkly and malnourished (just a term).
Loosen the bunch and wash thoroughly. I prefer my long beans in shorter cuts. It is easy to fork them and kids could properly digest the beans. You want to avoid longer cut beans. Beans easily fall off your fork and to avoid getting stained especially if you had cooked the beans in oil and dark sauce. Most importantly, you do not want to choke from it (ulk!), but savour it (umm).
- 1 handful of Chinese long beans (green), cut 2-3 inch length, makes 3-4 servings
- Chicken, beef or pork (small bite portions)
- Shrimp (optional)
- 1 fresh plump tomato
- diced ½ onion, chopped 3-4 garlic cloves
- chopped olive oil dark soy sauce (soya sauce, oyster sauce, mushroom sauce or Hoisin sauce)
- sugar and pepper (salt can be omitted)
Prepare a wok on medium heat, add olive oil. Fry garlic and onions first until golden, then, add meat. The aroma and taste of garlic is in its best when turned golden . Add tomatoes, stir-fry gently. Set aside (extra) onions and tomatoes to bring out some colour during serving. Add beans, dark sauce, pepper and a pinch of sugar (option), stir and cover for a few minutes. Beans have to remain crunchy but cooked well without discolouring the beans (too wrinkled beans are overcooked). The dark sauce is salty, so you may omit adding salt. Serve hot garnished with the extra tomatoes and onions, with steamed rice and fresh ripe mango on the side.
Tip: You may try mixing chicken, pork and beef for a meaty variety. Or make one with shrimps. I am more of a pork lover than chicken. I use pork belly in most of my stir-fry dishes. Pork brings out the sweetness into your stir-fry beans.
Enjoy! ≈ ♥ ≈