I better just say this straight out: my recipe for week three of Summer Fest 2009 isn’t a 5 minute, less-than-3 ingredients recipe. But if you’ve been coming here a while, you know that’s generally not my style.
You’re going to have to use your knife skills. And dirty up a couple pots.
But if you love to cook and love incredibly explosive flavors, this might be the recipe for you.
The Summer Fest cross-pollination blogging project’s third week, created by gardening maven Margaret Roach of Away To Garden, is officially underway with a greens and beans theme.
But before I get to my post, here’s what the co-creators of Summer Fest have cooked up:
- Away To Garden: Beans on a Pedestal
- Matt Bites: Sauteed Beet Greens with Pancetta & Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Steamy Kitchen: Broccoli Beef Stir-Fry
- White On Rice Couple: Edible Salad of Green Tops (beets, carrots and radishes)
- The Gluten Free Girl: Homegrown Salad
I borrowed a soy glaze from a recipe in my book The Cool Mountain Cookbook: A Gourmet Guide to Winter Retreats. It really belongs to a sea bass, but I’m sure the bass won’t mind sharing it with the beans.
The result is Sesame Soy Glazed Green Beans.
The first step involves parcooking the beans — an easy step that’s useful for many green bean recipes, not just this one.
Just drop the beans in a pot of boiling water and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, depending upon how crunchy (less time) or tender (more time) you want your final beans to be. After the brief boil, shock the beans by dropping them into a bowl of ice water.
Now, you may be asking yourself. Why didn’t Chef Gwen say “blanch the beans?”
True, blanching also means dropping food into a pot of boiling water but unlike parcooking, blanching is a quick in-and-out step.
The point of blanching is to keep the bright color (especially for green vegetables), or loosen the skin for easy peeling (tomatoes, peaches) or soften the food, like a cabbage leaf destined for stuffing, for example.
With parcooking, we want to move the cooking a little further along than a quick blanch. With either technique — blanching or parcooking — shocking the food with ice water is key to stop the cooking.
After parcooking and shocking the beans for this recipe, the next step is slicing the beans at an angle to create bite size pieces with attractive points. In the picture above, you can see the knife is positioned on a whole bean at a severe angle. The more angled your knife, the pointier the ends will be. (Is pointier a word?) You get the point.
The next step is to make the soy glaze. It doesn’t take long so having all the ingredients measured beforehand is key. Get a small saucepan very hot and pour in the soy sauce. Boy, will it ever sizzle! Then quickly stir in some honey and rice wine vinegar, followed by a slurry.
A slurry is a fancy name for a starch (in this case cornstarch but it could also be arrowroot) and cold water. The slurry, when added to boiling liquid, will thicken the liquid quicker than you can pour a glass of wine.
Once the glaze is made (it takes less than 5 minutes) the next step is to briefly saute the beans with some flavor enhancers. I use peanut oil for Asian inspired sautes because I like the flavor. It also has a high smoking point, compared to say, olive oil, so it’s a good oil for serious frying, although we’re not using extreme heat in this dish.
Garlic, fresh grated ginger and red chile pepper flakes are the flavoring ingredients for this recipe. The brief saute only takes a couple minutes, and then the glaze is added and cooked just until it’s heated through.
Toss in some sliced red bell pepper for color just before the glaze is added. While the beans are sauteing, put a small skillet on another burner and toast some sesame seeds. You can buy sesame seeds already toasted, but it’s really easy and only takes a few minutes to toast them yourself.
Just put a dry skillet over medium-high heat and give the pan a shake every once in a while. You can tell they’re done when they turn a shade darker and start to smell nutty. Seriously, that’s it. Takes maybe 5 minutes.
It probably takes 30 minutes from start (parcooking) to finish (glazing), so that’s not too bad, is it?
And the flavor? Well, it’s a party for your mouth — a little spicy, a little salty, a little sweet and tangy, and richly flavored with soy. Fantastic.
I’d love to hear what you think about this recipe, and if you’ve got a greens or beans recipe, leave a link. So drop a comment, and then head over to the other Summer Fest blogs and do the same. You’ll be amazed, reading through the comments, at what other greens and beans treasures await you.
Soy Sesame Green Beans
For the beans
1 pound green beans
2 teaspoons peanut (or vegetable oil)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes
1 cup sliced red bell pepper (about 1/2 of a large pepper)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds*
For the glaze
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch whisked together with 1 tablespoon cold water (slurry)
Make the beans
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and set up a large bowl of ice water. Drop the beans into the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 4 minutes. Remove beans with tongs or a slotted spoon and plunge into the ice water.
2. Remove the beans from the ice water after a few minutes, when the beans are cool. Pat dry. Slice the beans, at an angle, into 2-inch, bite-size pieces.
Make the glaze
1. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat for several minutes. Pour in soy sauce (it will sizzle furiously). Stir in honey and vinegar. Stir in slurry. The mixture should quickly thicken, probably in less than a minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and stir to coat with the oil. Stir in the garlic, ginger and pepper flakes. Saute for another minute or two. Stir in the glaze, tossing to coat and cook just until heated through. Remove from heat.
3. Place the beans on a serving platter and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.
* To toast sesame seeds, heat a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the sesame seeds. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent burning the seeds. The seeds are toasted when they turn a shade darker and smell nutty. It should take about 5 minutes, give or take.