Friday, May 04, 2007

Stir Fried Snake Beans, Tofu and Scallion

We stumbled upon some lovely looking snake beans (a.k.a. yardlong beans) today. Snake beans are, as you can probably tell, a member of the legume family, a close cousin to the more familiar green or haricot bean. These beans are wrinkly and pretty long, measuring up to over 30 centimetres. They can often be found on Chinese restaurant menus, stir fried with a fiery and garlicky pork mince. You can easily source them from most Asian grocery stores and some green grocers.

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Tonight I took a much simpler approach to cooking these. This stir fried dish literally takes minutes to prepare from the wok to the plate, or in my case, Chinese soup spoons. Lately, I've also been experimenting with the 'under 5' formula, something that I have come about to believe in. Basically, this idea holds that the number of key ingrediens used in a particular dish should be no more than 5. Hence, with such great simplicity, the beauty of the individual ingredients can truly shine through. These 5 ingredients include all solids, but exclude liquid seasonings such as oils and vinegars, and salt and pepper.

Here the fabulous 5 ingredients were:
snake beans, diced
firm tofu, diced
scallion (spring onion), diced
chilli, sliced
garlic, sliced

paired with the following seasonings:
sesame oil
fish sauce
white pepper powder

Saute diced firm tofu in a wok or pan with a decent amount of oil to coat. Once cubes start to brown on all sides, add in the garlic, snake beans and a pinch of salt. Continue to fry for 5 minutes till beans soften slightly. Season with a moderate amount of fish sauce, sesame oil and white pepper. Throw in scallion pieces and chilli slices. Stir fry for a further 30 seconds and serve.

These go great with steamed rice as part of a large family style meal. Or you could even be a little more adventerous and use it as a vegetarian taco filling; there's nothing more liberating than letting your imagination run wild!

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