Long Beans are an ancient vegetable, with wild varieties of these plants still growing in tropical Africa, where they were likely introduced from Southeast Asia. The long bean is also known as the long-podded cowpea, asparagus bean, snake bean, or Chinese long bean.
Long beans generally harvested while the pods are at their immature stage, just before to full development. Hence, they tend to perish early if kept open for a few hours. In the farms, the beans transferred to cold storage facilities soon after harvest.
Fresh, tender beans can be readily available year-round in the farmer markets all over Asia.
Choose smooth, firm yet flexible, fleshy, long and uniformly green immature pods. Avoid mature, tough, flabby, yellow or shriveled pods as they indicate old stock, and hence, out of flavor.
Once at home, treat them as you do for French or green beans. Store in a plastic bag and place in the refrigerator set at optimal humidity where they stay fresh for 2-4 days.
Preparation and serving methods
Young yard-long (asparagus) beans generally cooked like vegetables. To prepare: swish the beans in a bowl of fresh water. Mop them dry using a paper towel. Trim the ends. Cut the beans into desired lengths using a paring knife.
Yard long beans feature in almost all the parts of East Asian cuisine. They impart unique beany flavor in the dishes.
Here are some serving tips:
- Very tender, raw yard long beans can be eaten in salads. Sautéed or steamed, they can be served as a side dish with fish, seafood, and poultry.
- Braise the beans with fish sauce, Chinese fermented black beans, chili and soy sauce is a classic Cantonese style cuisine.
- In India, where they are popular as phali or chavali, long beans used in a variety of dishes ranging from stews, curries, sabzi, fried rice, rice pilaf, etc., with other vegetables like onion, garlic, potato, green bean, carrot, cabbage, etc.
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