Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bean there, stir-fried that.

On my way home from class today it started pouring, so I darted in to a Tescos to wait out the worst of it. This was a very bad idea because I was absolutely starving (the sandwich I had packed was moldy, which I failed to notice due to the lack of light bulb in our kitchen :(    ) and my bank balance is rapidly dwindling to nothingness. Of course, once I got in there, I bought a whole bunch of food I didn't really need, but I came home slightly drier than I otherwise would have and with an idea for a recipe in my head.

Now I can't really cook Chinese food. Like at all. I have no idea what kind of flavourings (if that's even a word?) go into my beloved Beijing fried rice, or those lovely beef and broccoli stir-frys, and mostly my stir-fry sauce is just soy sauce. BUT. I have been unable to find satisfactory soy sauce in grocery stores here (and haven't yet been to Chinatown) so I knew I couldn't go that way this time. However, I had a plan. You know those delicious, delicious green beans that Elizabeth told you all about back in May. Well I had honey and sub-par soy sauce in the cupboard, so I decided to attempt a sauce with those ingredients. Well the results weren't as amazing as I had hoped, but it was pretty darn good, and it could be a lot better, with a few changes. So here's what I did, and what I would do differently.
Bean-Noodle Stir-Fry


Vegetable oil (to cover bottom of pan)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 can beans (I used kidney, but would have preferred black. Alas, my local Tescos doesn't stock black beans). Usually I drain and rinse beans from the liquid they come in but today I didn't. I found the sauce a bit too thick and starchy, so it probably would have been better if the beans had been drained and rinsed and drained again. Next time!
1-2 nests of Chinese noodles, cooked and drained
A few (2-3?) tablespoons of soy sauce (I used shitty Tescos stuff, and I really think that better soy sauce would have made this dish A LOT better)
Maybe half a tablespoon of honey
2-3 tablespoons of boiling water
Crushed chili peppers (or Asian chili sauce)
Dried ginger (fresh would be better, about a centimeter cubed)
Lemon juice

Now I didn't use any other vegetables, but that was pretty much because I couldn't afford them. Mushrooms would work really well in this, as would broccoli. You could try cauliflower (one of my faves!), carrots, green beans, or whatever else you feel like. "Whatever you feel like" seems to be becoming quite the theme in my recipes, but I think that just makes them more exciting.

I felt like something was missing in the sauce but couldn't quite put my finger on it. It was probably fish sauce, which I don't usually keep around the house, but do on occasion miss. Or maybe some of that delicious rice wine vinegar!!!! I love that stuff and could drink it straight. In fact, that's how I know I've got a good soy sauce, because I will drink it straight. Mmmmm. If you can think of something else that would improve the sauce, please tell me in the comments below!

  • Fry the garlic in the oil in a large frying pan or wok until it looks soft but is not yet brown.  
  • Add the beans (and other vegetables, according to their cooking times) and stir while frying (careful, it will probably spit and some of the beans might pop). If you're using the bean liquid, boil off most of it until what you've got left is almost sauce consistency. If not, then once they look like they might start to pop, proceed to step 4.
  •  While this is happening (or maybe while the noodles are cooking), make the sauce thusly: put the honey, soy sauce and hot/boiling water in a mug or small bowl and stir to dissolve the honey. Add some lemon juice if you like, or wait till later and add it directly to the stir-fry.
  •  Add the noodles and the sauce to the beans. Add lemon juice (if you haven't already done so), hot pepper flakes (or chili sauce), ginger and anything else you feel like adding.  
  •  Stir and mix it all up, boiling off the sauce/glaze until it is sauce/glaze consistency. And delicious. Don't forget the delicious. Taste and adjust everything as you see fit. Or don't and leave it up to chance!

So there you go. Mine made two meals and was better the second time, when I was able to adjust things more. I don't usually go in for the noodles, especially when rice is on offer (I love rice with an intense passion), but I was pretty glad I did this time. Please experiment with this and let me know what you would do differently!


  1. Beans? In noodles?

    It seems we are incorporating beans everywhere! I continue to be amazed by their versatility. I would not have thought to use the soy-honey sauce with this one, but CLEARLY I will have to try it. I have soba noodles, hopefully that will work just as well. Or maybe I will buy some of those thin noodles and fry them.

    The whole idea is reminding me of black bean sauce, which involves chicken broth, soy sauce, rice wine and sugar (and beans, obv).

    Also, before I looked at the picture I read through the recipe a few times like, "where are the vegetables?" I really just thought I was skipping them. Maybe I'd add some snow peas (omg yum).

  2. well beans are just the best, that must be why. i think soba would be very different, but also good? hey you should learn how to make the sauce for the soba noodles, and soon your house will basically be osaka. yes black bean sauce was kind of my inspiration, and adding chicken broth would be pretty exciting! hey i might have to buy some rice wine vinegar as well as edible soy sauce. SNOW PEAS. OH MAN BEAN SPROUTS!!!!!!!

  3. also: new beans label, because clearly we are going to need it.

  4. Yeah, okay, you're right. I will seek some Chinese noodles and try a crispy noodle version of this. BEAN SPROUTS OMG

    I'll keep you posted!