Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vegan Tuesday: Stir-Fried Chinese Long Beans w/ Peanuts and Tofu

The challenge I've set for myself in the kitchen these past few weeks is to use as many on-hand ingredients as possible. Since I work at home I love the social aspect of making daily trips to Good Life, my neighborhood grocery store. It's a chance to pick up the odds and ends I need for each night's dinner but it's also a nice opportunity to bump into neighbors. While these trips are good for my spirit, they're not always, unfortunately, good for my wallet. 

So as I looked at the beautiful Chinese Long Beans we'd procured during the weekend trip to the farmer's market, I hoped I'd be able to prepare them with ingredients I already had in the fridge and on my shelves. 

I successfully met my self-imposed guidelines and I managed to make a quick and flavorful dinner for this week's Vegan Tuesday in the process! The meal also gave me a chance to break in my new wok. (It's no longer that beautiful metallic blue color, so this pic was definitely snapped "before" I broke it in.) One of these days I'm going to listen to Tehn at The Wok Shop in Chinatown and graduate to the hand-hammered woks she has in her store.

Well, without any further yammering from me, here's the recipe - I'd also challenged myself to make this post as quick as this dish's preparation!

Stir-Fried Chinese Long Beans w/ Peanuts and Tofu 
1/2 lb Chinese Long Beans (or green beans)
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, coarsely ground 
1 cup dry roasted peanuts (do not grind or chop these)
1 TBS grated, fresh ginger root
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh lime zest (or more to taste)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes 
8 oz extra firm tofu, sliced into cubes 
1 TBS vegetable oil (I used canola)
Lime wedges

1. Put a medium-sized pot, large enough to hold the beans, on to boil. As water heats, clean long beans and snip off any knobby tips. When water boils, dunk beans into pot and allow to cook for approximately 2 minutes. Plunge the beans into an ice bath or run under cold water to help keep them crisp and also to stop the cooking process. When they've cooled to the touch, cut them into pieces about two and a half inches in length. 

2. Heat wok, then add oil. As wok is heating, quickly mix the ground peanuts, ginger, garlic, lime zest, salt, coriander and pepper flakes in a small bowl. 

3. When oil is hot add the peanuts and spice mix to walk and stir-fry rapidly. Make sure your kitchen is well-ventilated and don't put your face directly over the wok! The fumes from this mixture are going to have a sting to them! When the bits of garlic and ginger look like they've begun to brown, scoop the mix out of the wok. 

4. Add more oil to wok if needed. Make sure excess water is shaken off of the long beans, then add to wok and stir-fry. When the beans begin to get black on the ridges, add remaining 1 cup of peanuts. Stir to heat through. Add the peanut and spice mix back to the wok, and toss over heat to mix well. Add the cubes of tofu to the beans, peanuts and spice mix and quickly stir-fry. Extra firm tofu will stand up well to this kind of heat, and handling, but I would only cook for about a minute or two, just enough to heat. Remove wok from heat source. Serve with lime wedges over rice or noodles or simply eat as is!

NOTES: If you can't find Chinese Long Beans, green beans will work just as well. If you do opt to substitute them, I would advise blanching and stir-frying them a little longer since they're thicker than the long beans I used. I keep an extra coffee bean grinder in my kitchen for grinding dried chili peppers, nuts, that sort of thing. You could also use a small food processor to grind the peanuts, or you could chop finely if you're that skilled with a knife. (I am not!) Also, I love lime juice and lime zest, so if you want to add more lime zest go right ahead. I love its clean, bright flavor. I used canola oil for the stir-fry but I gave some thought to using the sesame oil on my shelf. I decided that I didn't want that heavy flavor so I opted for the canola. 


Ann said...

Ummm.. this sounds totally healthy and super easy to prepare :) Love the idea of peanuts here.
Btw that pic looks very artistic ;)

Steven said...

Thanks, Ann! It was easy and really quick. And thanks for the props on the pic! All of my pix are close-cropped because for right now I'm just using the camera on my phone. If I frame the images any larger they don't as appealing! (Like I said, I'm not very tech-savvy, but I'm learning!)

Ozge said...

You enabled comments feature! I'm glad.

I wish we had chinese long beans here. Or tofu! I'll just stick with imagining how delicious this meal must be, and get some peanuts to snack on. Aww.

Steven said...

I would say you could substitute green beans, haricot vert... as for the tofu, you can leave it out and still get plenty of protein from this. And yes, I did manage to enable comments! I'm getting better at this. :)