I had some really successful kitchen kismet this week. Bob and Evelyn sent over some fabulous beans. I think I made an erroneous assumption that they were Chinese long beans. Whether they were or not, it set off a tidal wave of memories for me and, as usual I headed to my trusty stash of recipes, which live in the gigantic white loose-leaf notebook called, simply "Clare". Hmmmm....I wonder if in my heart, cooking defines me? Clearly the subject for, if not therapy, then lots of further thought. But I digress....back to beans. I found a wonderful Gourmet recipe from 2006 and there, right beside it, a Mark Bittman recipe from 2002 which I must have decided at some point would go together beautifully.
I made a couple of adjustments and, boy oh boy, was it good! As if on queue, our friends Sarah and Rob blew in from Boston and an impromptu dinner party was had. So great to see old friends, both of a human and culinary sort.
Spicy Stir-Fried Chinese Long Beans with Peanut
1 1/2 lb Chinese long beans (or apparently other long beans!)
3/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
2 teaspoons soy sauce
4 fresh Thai chiles
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 large shallot, halved lengthwise, then very thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Cook untrimmed beans in a 6 -to-8 quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer with tongs to a large bowl of ice and cold water to shock them and stop the cooking process. Drain them in a colander and pat dry with paper towels. Trim the beans and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces.
Pulse peanuts in a food processor until about half the peanuts are finely ground and remainder are in very large pieces (do not grind to a paste).
Stir together soy sauce and chiles in a small bowl.
Heat oil in a large saucepan until very hot. Add garlic and stir fry for about 5 seconds and then add peanuts until the mixture is golden, about 30 seconds. Add beans, and stir until hot and well coated with the mixture, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and stir in soy sauce mixture and shallot, stirring until shallot has wilted. Drizzle in lime juice and season with salt, then transfer to a bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature.
-adapted from Gourmet , May 2006
Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce, Chicken and Cucumbers
1 to 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (hello rotisserie chicken!)
2 english cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1/2 inch dice
1 lb. dried linguine noodles
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 cup tahini
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Hot sesame oil or Tabasco sauce to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more
At least 1/2 cup minced scallions for garnish
Set a large pot of water to boil and salt it. Cook pasta until tender. While pasta is cooking whisk together sesame oil and tahini, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, vinegar, hot oil and pepper in a large bowl. Thin the sauce with some of the pasta water so that it is about the consistency of heavy cream. Combine drained pasta, sauce, chicken and cucumbers. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary then garnish with the scallions and serve.
-adapted from The Minimalist: Noodles with Crunch by Mark Bittman, June 12, 2002