Tag: Asian

Chinese Long Beans Are Delicious: A Simple Preparation

Allow me introduce you to my new friend, Chinese long beans.

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If you have ever strolled through Asian markets, you may have noticed this unusual-looking vegetable.

Chinese long beans bring to mind a shopping trip years ago where my friend and I stared in equal parts horror and wonder at a woman’s dangling, long bean-like fingernails. This is precisely why I’ve walked passed them many times in Asian groceries and given them strange looks at Twin Cities farmers markets.

This all changed the following summer when I noticed the little boy I nannied chewing on a long bean his mother gave him as a snack. Long beans were one of his favorite snacks and he seemed content using his two and only teeth to nibble the wrinkly, green strands. Suddenly, they seemed less menacing.

Now, long beans are one of my favorite vegetables. They look more unusual than they taste and I actually prefer their sweet flavor and crunchy texture to standard green beans. If you are looking to add a new vegetable to your repertoire, try this simple preparation.

Chinese long beans

Be careful when adding the sauces to a smoking hot pan. I learned the glaze can burn when I scorched my first batch.

Ingredients:
Long Beans, cut into bit sized pieces (about two cups)
Vegetable oil (not olive)
Eggs, scrambled
Onion, diced or cut into half moons
Salt
Black Pepper
Soy Sauce
Sugar
Optional: Sesame seeds to garnish

Instructions:

  1. Wash the long beans, trim off the ends, and cut into manageable pieces.
  2. Cook scrambled eggs in a little bit of oil and set aside. Cut into strips or break into small pieces. If you plan to use the same pan to cook the beans, rinse or wipe out the pan when it’s cool enough to safely handle.
  3. In a hot pan, stir fry the onion in a little oil (not olive oil).
  4. Before the onions brown, add the green beans and stir fry until they are tender. If the outsides of the beans slightly blister, they will taste even better. Make sure the onion does not burn.
  5. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner. If the pan is scorching hot, let it cool slightly so that the glaze does not burn.
  6. Toss the beans with soy sauce or miso mixed with a little it of water, plus a sprinkle of sugar or drizzle of honey for a salty-sweet glaze. Taste as you go and adjust the soy and sugar as needed.
  7. You could also add hot pepper, garlic, or sesame seeds.

Things I Like: Springish Edition

It’s spring, sort of.

Thunderstorms have replaced snow storms. I think I’m ok with this, though they bring their own kind of devastation. The warmer weather makes my commute to work through rural North Iowa safer and I can’t get enough of the smell of other people grilling.

For the first time, we find ourselves in a home without a basement with a dog who is terrified of thunder, lightning and wind. We learned reacts to thunderstorms by hiding in the bathroom, shaking, and hiccuping.

We’ve also gotten ourselves on the “every other week” track to and from the Twin Cities this month so we can join our family and old friends for holidays and celebrations.

I’m doing my best to keep up with this blog that I love, but find myself needing to take a few more breathers than normal due to fatigue after our weekend travels and adjusting to a staffing transition at work. I also enjoy ghost writing for companies’ blogs on the side.

Despite the chaos of the past month, I’ve gotten to try some new things. Here are some of my recent favorites, both food and nonfood alike:

Unc'sTaste, Osage, IA
I work across the alley from this bakery and cafe. You can buy Cabin Coffee beverages on one side and freshly baked sweets and meals on the other.

Restaurants in North Iowa are slower to embrace social media so I appreciate how Taste frequently updates their Facebook page highlighting specials. I noticed their efforts to offer a creative lunch menu and stopped by one afternoon to try their shrimp taco special for $6.

I liked the flavorful, garlicky sauce and crunchy, fresh cabbage, bell peppers and greens. The shrimp were plentiful and nicely grilled so that they retained that snappy texture. I look forward to trying more lunch specials and keep eying their giant muffins.

Rookie’s, Clear Lake, IA
We visited Rookie’s (the bar connected to Sevens) located on the main drag just blocks from Clear Lake on our last date night. Rookie’s is also a local establishment that’s really faithful about updating their Facebook page.

The bartenders were friendly, the drinks were surprisingly inexpensive, and the food was better than expected. We sat around the big horseshoe bar and felt comfortable just enjoying our time and lingering.

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The sweet potato fries were crispy and coated in a course black pepper seasoning. The dipping sauce was notably good and I think I tasted mustard.

Jake was satisfied with his Cajun chicken sandwich while I ordered the seared lemon-pepper cod entrée ($15) that came with two big fillets, a side salad, and choice of potato. The cod was nicely seasoned and cooked, the homemade vinaigrette was pleasantly balanced and tasted similarly to what I make at home, and the hashbrowns arrived in a heaping plate with a crispy crust.

God bless North Iowa for offering shredded hash browns as a potato choice and ranch with most everything fried.

I’m glad we could experience the laid-back, locals centric version of Rookie’s before the summer crowds hit but that will be fun, too. We were so preoccupied with moving last summer that we didn’t spend much time in Clear Lake.

DSC_0030Homemade Pork Fried Rice
Pork fried rice is part of our standard Chinese take-out order.

Restaurants usually include one carton of steamed white rice per entrée so I like to transform the leftovers into my own fried rice.

Years ago before the United Noodle deli remodel, I used to visit for lunch. I loved that they made their fried rice taste so light and seasoned it with black pepper. Theirs is what I aim to recreate.

At home, I tip the scale in favor of fresh vegetables, meat and scrambled eggs, and use FAR less oil than a restaurant. My biggest pet peeve about Chinese take-out is when it’s an oil slick. Why is this necessary?

I marinated the pork in soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, onion, and sesame oil. Once I added the rice to the work with the cooked vegetables, garlic and proteins, I seasoned everything with more of the marinade ingredients and served it with a big, green salad.

Jim Gaffigan, Obsessed
On Sunday evening, I caught Jim Gaffigan’s new comedy special Obsessed after Game of Thrones.

A Song of Fire & Ice written by George R.R. Martin is far from flowers and sunshine, but I swear HBO aims to depict everything as gross and shocking as possible.

I had to practically peel myself off of the floor after last week’s episode. It was a happy accident that I stumbled upon Obsessed which wiped away Game of Throne’s lingering horror, death, and despair. I laughed out loud through the whole special and appreciated how many bits poked fun at food.

In a perfect world, new Jim Gaffigan specials will always follow each episode of Game of Thrones!

Almond Milk
We’ve become fond of almond milk. I think it tastes better than soy and rice milk, and we add it to our coffee and cereal. Plus, I’m lactose intolerant. Coincidently, we first tried it on the same day Beth wrote about including it in her top five fridge essentials. Do you have a favorite milk alternative?

Tropical Rum Beverages
Sipping a homemade cocktail made with pineapple juice and spiced rum doesn’t make me forget about this weather, but it certainly dulls the edge.

Casey’s General Store Pizza By The Slice
I have a fondness for this gas station pizza.

Casey’s General Stores are located all over the Midwest, but I don’t remember seeing one until I went to college in Iowa. Classmates often mentioned how much they liked Casey’s pizza, but I never tried it because I didn’t believe them.

Before you run out to a Casey’s or think I’m nuts, let me clarify what I mean by good. Casey’s pizza is good in the sense that it’s much better than what one would expect from a gas station. I like it better than the skads of frozen pizzas we’re tried (except Heggie’s) and prefer it to most pizza delivery chains. Just check your expectations and don’t go expecting Broders’ or Cossetta’s.

 

Apparently, I Was A Geisha

Seeing a friend share the results of a “Who Were You In A Past Life?” quiz on Facebook brought to mind the strangest experience of my life.

My first year after college, a friend invited me to join her at a Twin Cities spiritual center to attend something called a healing circle.

The meeting took place in a dim room illuminated by a glowing photo of a spiritual leader. We sat in a circle and people began sharing their personal struggles, some of whom shared at length. I’m a reserved individual and don’t disclose too deeply unless I get to know someone well.

After the sharing portion of the evening, we’re asked to close our eyes while the leader made his rounds around the room to lay his hands on everyone’s head. I’ve always felt uneasy when I’m in a situation where a pastor or teacher tells everyone to close their eyes and dislike when strangers touch me so I find this a triple dose of discomfort.

I think the leader fancied himself as some sort of Deanna Troi.

He could sense that I was hesitant to participate with unbridled enthusiasm and commented on this fact, which only made me feel more awkward.

As if he’s uncomfortable because he’s not sure I liked him and grasping for conversation, he suddenly gasps and informs me that he just received a vision. A vision specifically for me about my past life.

He goes on to describe that in his vision he saw me dressed in a kimono serving a table of people.

I stare at him incredulously.

I blink.

I really have no idea what to say.

“I can tell you were taught to be a nice person,” he says. “You should stop worrying about being so nice. Like, if you want to share something, you should share it. Or if you want to leave, you should leave.” Actually, this wasn’t bad advice.

“Ok,” I say. One minute later, I leave.

Now, my problem wasn’t with the spiritual experience being new and different. My problem was that he automatically associated me with a kimono (I’m Korean) and assumed that I was Asian in my past life.

I’m not well-versed on the topic of past lives, but would to think that if past lives were real, we aren’t bound to the same race in which we presently find ourselves. I’d also like to think I wouldn’t necessarily be a Geisha. Keep in mind this occurred soon after the film Memoirs Of A Geisha won many film and music awards, pushing the topic of Geishas into the forefront of pop culture.

I’m tickled that Buzzfeed claims I was a poet even though I chose mochi as my fro-yo topping. Or what the heck. Maybe the joke’s on me and I really was a Geisha!

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