The Absolute Best Way To Cook Long Beans Is A Quick Saute

Also known as pea beans or yard-long beans, long beans are a popular legume cultivated and consumed in the Far East. True to their name, long beans usually grow between 1 ½ and 3 feet and are sold in circular bundles. Like green beans, they're harvested for their bean pods and have a nutritional content more closely resembling a vegetable than a typical legume.

While long beans look like extra-long green beans and share a similar flavor and juiciness when cooked, they benefit most from a waterless cooking method. Steaming and boiling may be par for the course for green beans, but long beans benefit most from a saute. Instead of releasing water as they cook, long beans are especially absorbent. If you boil or steam them, they'll be oversaturated with water, resulting in a chewy and tasteless bean.

Using oil and medium to high heat to saute the beans for a minute or two will produce a crisp, juicy long bean and enhance its vegetal, earthy flavor. Plus, it's faster than boiling, steaming, or roasting them. A flavorful oil like peanut, sesame, or olive oil will impart even more complexity to your long beans as they absorb the hot oil while they cook.

Long bean preparation and flavor pairings

Preparing long beans for a saute is simple: Snap off tough or dried-out ends, rinse off any dirt or debris, and cut them into 2 or 3 inch stubs. Since the legume is most popular in Asian cuisine, long beans are commonly sauteed in a stir fry with aromatic seasonings, flavorful oils, and pungent sauces. Drawing inspiration from Chinese cuisine, you could fry ginger and garlic in sesame oil in a wok until fragrant before adding the long beans and a dash of soy sauce. They'd also be perfect additions to various stir-fried noodle dishes from pad Thai to lo mein.

As an alternative to sauteing, you can sear long beans in oil in a flat frying pan and drizzle them with the sauce of your choice. Seared long beans will have a tasty char that would pair well with honey, ginger, miso, and lime sauce. Southeast Asian cuisines incorporate long beans into coconut milk-based curries. You can thus saute your long beans with aromatics in a deeper pan or pot before adding chunks of potatoes, chilies, curry paste, and coconut milk, then simmer into a comforting stew to serve over steamed rice. Even after simmering the stir-fried beans for long periods, they'll retain a crunchy texture instead of turning to mush.