Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chinese Long Beans With Fermented Tofu


From what I recall during my youth, I was a pretty good kid when it came to eating vegetables.  Some of the vegetables that I remember being fond of were broccoli dipped in Maggi and fresh lemon juice, fresh artichoke dipped in Maggi and mayonnaise, and Brussels sprouts.  Oh, how I loved the bitterness of Brussels sprouts.

One of the more interesting vegetable dishes that I enjoyed eating when I was young was Chinese long beans with fermented tofu.  There are a few differences between Chinese long beans and the Western haricot vert type of green bean.  For one, Chinese long beans are usually sold when they are about 2 feet long and can grow up to 3 feet (they’re also known as the “yardlong bean” according to Wikipedia).

Texture is another difference.  The outer layer of Chinese long beans is denser than Western green beans and yields a nice, slightly squeaky feeling when you chew on them.  That tiny bounce in the texture is a nice contrast to the natural crispness of the Chinese long bean.  In terms of flavor, Chinese long beans taste pretty similar to Western green beans, but don’t taste as “green” (perhaps vibrant is also a suitable adjective) and the sweetness is typically more subtle. 


The fact that Chinese long beans don’t have an assertive “green” taste to them makes them pair well with fermented tofu.  If the flavor of the bean was more pronounced, the fermented tofu might mask any of the refreshing “green” taste.

It’s hard to describe what fermented tofu taste like, but it has that typical pungent fermented foods funk factor.  The texture on the inside of the tofu is much like that of silken tofu, and the outside skin has some resilience.


Also, the fermented tofu happens to leave a slight tingly/itchy sensation in my mouth.  I’m not sure if this happens to everyone or if it’s just me being slightly allergic to something in the brine or fermented tofu itself.  I really enjoy the taste of the fermented tofu, though, so the following ratio may be a little heavy on the tofu.  As always, taste and tweak as you see fit.


Chinese Long Beans With Fermented Tofu

  1. 200 g (~1/2 bunch) Chinese long beans => ~2” chop
  2. 40 g (~4 cubes) fermented tofu + 3 T water + fermented tofu brine to taste => break up tofu
  3. Hot pan + oil + step #1 => stir fry, ~1 minute
  4. Step #3 + step #2 => stir, cover, ~2 minutes until tender

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