I love vegetables. The fresher, the better. I didn’t even try bottled salad dressing until I was well into my teens, and my idea of dressing a salad was drizzling olive oil, fresh lemon juice, teasing it with a pinch of salt and calling it a day. But sometimes, especially if you’re trying to take advantage of an unexpected but welcome abundance, doing things the same way can get a little boring.
I used to turn to cookbooks to find alternatives when this sort of thing happened, but more and more I find myself turning to the internet for inspiration. This recipe from Fine Cooking met all my requirements; fast, easy, delicious, and an ingredients list I can a/ pronounce and b/ don’t have to go to 3 different grocery stores for. I’m already planning on tweaking it to lower the sodium, and I’m intrigued at trying this with other veggies:
- 1 Tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbs. Chinese black bean sauce
- 1 Tbs. rice vinegar
- 2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
- 1 tsp. granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 lb. green beans trimmed
- Kosher salt
- 2 Tbs. minced ginger
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced
If you already know this, just smile and nod and carry on, but if you’re a new cook, do yourself a favour and visit your local farm market or produce place for fresh ginger, green beans and garlic, and then prep everything ahead of time. I’ve yet to find a frozen or packaged product that replicates fresh, even if it does say so on the bag.
The moment I cut into the ginger its rich, sharp scent permeated my kitchen (and the cat, who was watching with interest), and made me yearn for some slightly soft, melt in your mouth ginger cookies.
- In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, black bean sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar, and set aside.
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a straight-sided sauté pan until shimmering, then add the beans, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, and cook, tossing occasionally, until most of the beans are browned, shrunken, and tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the ginger and garlic; cook for about 45 seconds.
- Add the soy sauce mixture to the pan, cook for another 30 seconds, until the beans are coated and the sauce is warmed through, and serve.
The recipe specifies a straight-sided sauté pan; don’t make my mistake and use a wok, as the curvature of the wok base meant not all the beans were cooking at the same rate. Silly me.
Also 45 seconds really is enough time to infuse a dish with the flavours of garlic and ginger. Garlic tends to burn easily, so if you’re tempted to go longer before adding the soy sauce mix, don’t. Picking burnt bits out of dinner should never be part of the part.