Thai Style Long Bean Stir-Fry
by Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime
This recipe is one I first came across in the cookbook It Rains Fishes, by Kasma Loha-unchit, (Pomegranate Communications; 1st edition July 1995). In that book, she describes the preparation of long beans with the Thai roasted chile paste, which is in fact, quite simple and delicious.
People who know me well know that I don’t generally respect chefs and authors unless they earn my respect. And Kasma is one who has indeed earned such respect, earning her a place among the echelon of fine chefs in my heart and esteem.
This recipe departs from hers in that I like greater interest among the vegetables, and a balance of Thai flavors (hot-sour-salty-sweet). In fact, I might make this more often the way she describes except when I do manage to see long beans for sale, they can be iffy, so the amounts I find acceptable for use can often be small. My advice, if you do find them fresh and acceptable is to use them the same day, because I suspect they have travelled a very very long way from farm to your table. A world away perhaps?
The Thai roasted garlic paste (nam prik pao) in this is also known by other names, sambal belacan among them. The paste has an almost identical appearance to the Korean fermented spicy soybean paste called gochujang. The difference is that the Thai version, like the Indonesian sambal belacan version as well, contains shrimp paste (which can, in fact be bought bottled from importers dealing in Asian food, and it has a mysterious pinkish-greyish-mauve appearance in the jar.) I mention the shrimp paste as a matter of fact because some ingredients can be hard to locate, and you might perhaps choose to use the Chinese doubanjiang spicy bean paste or the Korean gochujang with just a bit of the shrimp paste added for authenticity. However, Thai Kitchen, which is a more widespread purveyor of Asian foods, offers the Thai roasted chili paste for sale in many expanded markets who carry their line. It comes in the same small bottles their other curry pastes are packaged. But if even then, you cannot locate it, be like a modern foodie and buy it online. We live in places far and wide, but yes, food can be shipped. And in the end, if that also fails you, you can find recipes to make this online (Although that might be difficult if you cannot locate shrimp paste.)
After that, comes the task of locating fresh long beans. And in case you cannot, one might turn a blind eye if you did in fact use fresh green beans in this. It is very close, although not quite the same. You be the judge of whether it is acceptable. I just do not ever recommend using frozen green beans, or even more unfortunate, canned green beans.
Thai holy basil is a bit specialty as well, but if you can get it, it has the flavor of sweet basil with spicy notes as well. But in a pinch, sweet basil might do. It only need be fresh. This is not the time or place for frozen paste, bottled paste, or even dried. The food police won’t come after you, but you will have lost the taste and ambience of the dish altogether.
The only other piece of advice I have from here is to use a good quality fish sauce, and Red Boat is a very distinguished brand, which I prefer myself. But yes, in the end, any brand will do.
I’d hope you would enjoy but I know you will. I love Thai cuisine as well as all Asian foods, and if not of my own culinary heritage (the Lau I come from is not Asian), then it is of my culinary heart.
One million Tony Bourdains can’t be wrong, can they? LOL
Thai Style Long Bean Stir-fry
- 4-6 ounces Chinese long beans
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger root
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons Thai roasted chili paste (nam prik pao) or Indonesian sambal belacan or Chinese spicy bean sauce (doubanjiang) or Korean gochujang
- 4 ounces sliced red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup shredded bamboo shoots
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 cup torn Thai holy basil leaves
- pinch sugar
- sliced Thai bird chilies or other spicy peppers (for garnish; optional)
- Chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish; optional)
- Prep ingredients and set them aside.
- Trim ends of long beans and cut into finger lengths (long beans are about as long as your forearm); heat pot of boiling water and blanch snipped long beans for one minute, then drain.
- Heat peanut oil in a large skillet and add the ginger, garlic, and roasted chili paste; stir paste around until it incorporates into the oil.
- Add blanched long beans, red bell pepper strips and bamboo shoots to pan and stir-fry for several minutes until the vegetables are crisp tender.
- Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, pinch sugar and holy basil; stir for about a minute or less or until the basil just barely wilts.
- Serve hot with rice, garnished with sliced Thai bird chilies if desired.
From the kitchen of palatablepastime.com
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