The Yardlong bean – more interestingly referred to as the Chinese long bean – is an enigmatic legume that's been tantalizing the taste buds of global bean enthusiasts for centuries. It grows up to a yard in length and has been a popular curio in Chinese, Southeast Asian, and Indian markets since before the dawn of the Spice Trade. You know you've found a Yardlong if you spot long, slender, green or crimson bean pods hanging from vining or bush plants. With so many different types of beans available, it can be hard to differentiate between them all – but in this blogpost, we're here to tell you all about the mysterious Yardlong Bean, its history, its flavor, and how to properly prepare and enjoy it.
A Brief History of the Yardlong Beans
The Yardlong bean is believed to have originated in India and has been cultivated in China since the late Ming Dynasty in the late 1700s. Over time, the beans spread throughout Southeast Asia and have become popular in recent years worldwide as farmers, chefs and foodies alike have come to appreciate its unique size and flavor profile. The Yardlong Bean was once considered a novelty item due to its lengthy size – but nowadays, the bean has become a staple in the diet of many cultures across the globe.
The Flavor of the Yardlong Bean
Yardlong beans have a firmer texture than other beans and tend to hold their shape better when cooked. They are crunchier and less starchy than other beans, lack a distinctive earthy taste, and take on whatever flavors they are cooked with. They do not come with the same stringiness associated with green beans, and their nutty, lightly sweet flavor makes them ideal for stir-fries and stews.
How to Cook with the Yardlong Bean
Yardlong beans can be used in a variety of dishes, both savory and sweet. While they are enjoyable in their raw state, they tend to be most flavorful after being cooked. Before cooking, always be sure to rinse the beans in cold water and cut them into strips or segments.
To stir-fry the beans, heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add the beans. Cook for 3-4 minutes until tender, stirring constantly, then add in your desired seasonings (garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, etc). Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat.
For a simple side dish, the beans can be steamed, boiled or microwaved. To boil them, add the beans to a pot of salted boiling water and cook until they are tender (3-10 minutes). For a special flavor, cook the beans in vegetable or chicken broth instead of water. For a microwave method, add the beans to a bowl of water and cook on high for 5-10 minutes, then season as desired.
For a sweet dish, the beans can be boiled in syrup or sugar and served as a dessert. Bring a pot of water and sugar to a boil, then add in the beans and cook until tender. Drain the beans, then mix in desired seasonings such as ground cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom. Serve either hot or cold.
The Yardlong bean is a nutritious and versatile legume that has been used by cooks around the world for centuries. Though sometimes overlooked, their mild, slightly sweet flavor and firm texture make them ideal for use in a variety of dishes, both savory and sweet. Whether stir-fried, boiled, steamed or microwaved, the Yardlong bean can be a star ingredient in a wide variety of diverse dishes. Furthermore, their size makes them perfect for presentation – they’ll certainly add drama to any dish. Give this unique legume a try and your taste buds will thank you!