Photo credit: Thadah Wah
Also known as snake beans, yard long beans or asparagus beans, long beans are a staple in many parts of Asia and can actually grow to be 3 ft long. They are very similar to green beans in flavor and how they can be prepared, but they tend to hold up better to high heat, staying firm where green beans may go mushy. Their hardiness also means they hold up better to strong flavors and spice. They are delicious in soups and curries or simply on their own.
The key to long beans is high heat. When fully cooked, they will be mostly tender with just a little firmness left. They should not taste crunchy or raw, but they won't be quite as soft as a green bean. Whether roasting, sauteeing or stir-frying, make sure you use enough heat to almost blister them and add plenty of chopped garlic. Alternatively, they're great added to a curry or soup and cooked until tender. You can also braise them with tomatoes.
STORAGE: Long beans will keep in an unsealed bag in the fridge for up to a week, if not longer. Be sure to keep them unwashed and dry - they don't like being wet.
RECIPE: Long Beans with Black Pepper adapted from this recipe from foodandwine.com
Thinly slice a small onion and chop your bunch of long beans into 3 inch pieces. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat and add your onions. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned and add the long beans. If you have peppers or cherry tomatoes, add them in here. Stir-fry until beans are lightly browned a bit softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in a pinch of sugar and 1/8 cup water. Turn the heat to medium low, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes or until the beans are tender and the liquid has evaporated. Toss in a tablespoon of soy sauce and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Stir and cook for another minute before serving.
Sichuan Style Stir-Fried Long Beans