Yard Long Beans, Uninterrupted and Why I Love Bruce Lee
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Isn’t it about time I swing in the ring with some sort of Asian food, if only a very simple dish?
Looking at Spinach Tiger, one would think I don’t eat anything Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, or Vietnamese. But, there are whole years of my life I think I only ate Asian food. When I lived in California, I had a roommate born in Vietnam and friends from China, Korea and Japan, and they all were great cooks willing to arrive at my door with groceries and lessons. But, I never thought I would leave California. I never thought I would have a food blog and I never wrote anything down. I don’t blog about Asian food very much because it’s not my expertise, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love it.
It may even surprise you to know that I studied Jeet Kune Do Kung Fu, the kind that Bruce Lee did, and yes, I’m a huge Bruce Lee fan. His “fighting” philosophy is much like my cooking philosophy.
Bruce Lee took all the fluff out of martial arts. We didn’t have any fancy long leg kicks. It was a burst of power to the shin from our foot, done with the least amount of movement. Arms were never extended, it was might within inches. Nothing wasted. No fancy clothes. No bare feet. Who gets attacked in bare feet? No fancy belts. Beginner, senior and then a level only 3 or 4 ever attain. I made it to the senior level, and I have one hand scar to show for it, but what I still remember is how to do one quick punch, one quick kick, maximum result with minimal, but powerful effort.
Jeet Kune Do is all about taking out, not putting in.
This is an art and one I like to incorporate into much of my cooking.
In respect to what I learned, these are just humble yard long beans, quickly stir fried in peanut oil, with garlic, dried chile rings and almonds and a little Schezwan sauce. This dish is a simple statement of big flavor.
Yard long beans belong to the same family as the black eyed pea. And, if left to continue to grow will yield a similar bean inside. Usually about 18 inches long, they can grow up to 3 feet long.
Pencil thin, they are easily stir-fried, but can get mushy if cooked too long. Perfect is getting the beans soft on the outside while maintaining a crunch on the inside. Not as sweet as standard green beans, they take well to spicy flavors.
I made two bundles of these and, frankly, we could have eaten more. My afterthought was that these would be great with some noodles, but then again, there is nothing wrong with just having a bowl of yard longs and nothing else.
All too often vegetables don’t get appreciated because they are the accompaniment of something else that is the star. After all, we live in a meat and potatoes culture with a side of something. It’s just more fair to eat a dish like this uninterrupted by anything else, enjoying every bite, the way you eat an ice cream cone or a bag of popcorn. You don’t want anything interfering with the moment.
“The art of jeet kune do is simply to simplify.” Bruce Lee
Tell me, do you have a hero that has influenced your thinking or your cooking?
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 cloves garlic
2 bundles yard long beans, cut into 2-3” pieces
1 tablespoon chile rings
1 tablespoon spicy szechuan sauce
1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped
Sea Salt to taste
Heat peanut oil on medium high to high in a wok or frying pan.
Add garlic, quickly toss until just nearly golden.
Add beans, dried chile rings (or substitute a fresh hot pepper), szechuan sauce.
Remove garlic and add almonds. Season with salt. Serve Immediately.