I’m a pretty lucky guy. Just before heading back to southeast Asia last month, I got a new cookbook in the mail from my publisher called Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and Beyond. (We’ll just call it Asian Pickles for the purposes of this blog post, though.) I’d met author Karen Solomon at a little author party Ten Speed Press threw for us at Omnivore Books in SF a while back, and I was immediately taken with the idea for her book!
Fast forward quite a few months and here it was on my doorstep! Even before fully diving in to the recipes, I smiled seeing that my amazing editor, Melissa Moore, had taken on this book, and the incredible food stylist that had done both Sriracha cookbooks—Karen Shinto—was on board for this culinary tome as well. RAD! I looked through the different chapters, organized by county/region, and got unbelievably hungry seeing all the varieties of kimchi, tsukemono, and chutneys. And while I want to eventually make all of them, when I saw Karen’s recipe for salt-cured long beans with ginger, I knew this was the one I had to try right away. There weren’t any long beans at Whole Foods, but there were green beans (haricots verts) aplenty, and thankfully, the recipe gave an option for green beans since long beans aren’t exactly ubiquitous.
Since the green beans aren’t heated, they keep their great crunch, which made it hard for me to resist snacking on them just straight up. I ended up plating them on top of a bowl of steamed white rice I’d made in my rice cooker. So simple. So delicious. (The next morning, I made the leftover rice into fried rice and served more green beans over that. Also good.) The beans are a little salty—as is to be expected I suppose when the first word in the recipe is salt—which is what made them great to enjoy over a bowl of plain rice; I under-salted it on purpose and it cut the salt nicely. Karen recommends tossing into a stir-fry, which I bet would be rad. I also picture these in a curry, or chopped up smaller in an Asian-inspired omelet/frittata/quiche or folded into the middle of a Vietnamese bánh xèo. Hell, I could picture em being ragingly good in an onion- and mushroom-rich Thanksgiving stuffing. Try em. Be inspired. Tell me what you put em in.
- 10 ounces long beans, or 12 ounces green beans
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 (2/3-inch) piece ginger
- 2 small cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- Trim the beans, discarding the ends, and chop into 4-inch lengths. If you’re using green beans instead of long beans, be sure to cut off both ends of the beans (don’t just snap the stem) to allow the flavors to penetrate.
- Lay the beans in a single layer in a flat, shallow dish. Cover them with the salt and let them sit for 2 hours, rolling them occasionally. Rinse the beans, discarding any extra salt or residual liquid, and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Reprinted with permission from Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon, © 2014, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.