Spicy Long Beans in Lettuce Cups

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer or part of a multicourse meal.

Note: The oyster sauce or hoisin sauce (which adds a sweeter note) adds complexity. You can substitute sambal oelek (a ground fresh chile paste that is not in oil), but the flavors won't be as deep or complex. This recipe also calls for chile paste in oil; various brands can be found in Asian markets and well-stocked grocers. The lettuce wraps are nice eat-with-your-hands appetizers, but the beans can become an entree if served with steamed rice.

• 12 oz. Chinese long beans (about 2 3/4 c.)

• 2 tbsp. canola oil, as needed

• 6 to 8 oz. ground pork

• 2 tsp. finely grated garlic

• 1 1/2 tsp. finely grated ginger

• Pinch kosher salt, to taste

• 1/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth

• 3 to 4 tsp. chile paste in oil, to taste (see Note)

• 2 tbsp. dry sherry

• 1 tsp. oyster or hoisin sauce (see Note)

• Soy sauce to taste

• Butter lettuce leaves or steamed rice, to serve

• Chopped roasted, unsalted peanuts, optional


Cut the beans about 3/8 -inch crosswise; set aside.

Add 1 to 2 teaspoons oil to a medium to large skillet over medium heat. Add the pork and brown, breaking it up into fine pieces. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet over medium-high. Add the beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Push to the sides to form a small, empty area in the middle of the skillet where you can add the garlic, ginger and a little more oil, if needed, and salt to taste.

Cook briefly, stirring, until aromatic, then combine with the beans, stir, and cook briefly. Add the broth, chile paste, sherry and oyster or hoisin sauce. Bring to a simmer, return the pork to the skillet and combine. Season to taste with soy sauce.

Serve with lettuce cups or steamed rice, and garnish with peanuts, if using.

Nutrition information per each of 8 servings with lettuce:

Calories 94 Fat 7 g Sodium 48 mg

Calcium 23 mg Saturated fat 1 g Carbohydrates 4 g

Protein 5 g Cholesterol 13 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, ½ medium-fat meat, 1 fat.

Chinese Long Beans with Cracked Pepper

Serves 4.

Note: This recipe is a great example of how adding a few pantry staples (like sugar and soy sauce) can revitalize a simple vegetable dish. From Jean-Georges Vongerichten from www.foodandwine.com.

• 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

• 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

• 1 lb. Chinese long beans or green beans, cut into 3-in. lengths

• 1/2 red bell pepper, peeled with a vegetable peeler and cut into 1/3-in. dice

• 1/2 tsp. sugar

• 1/4 c. water

• 2 tbsp. soy sauce

• 1 tsp. cracked black pepper


Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, until lightly browned. Add the long beans and red pepper and stir-fry until the beans are slightly softened and browned in spots, 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar. Add the water, cover and cook over moderately low heat until it has evaporated and the beans are tender, 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce and pepper, and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 81 Fat 4 g Sodium 460 mg

Carbohydrates 11 g Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 50 mg

Protein 3 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 4 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 1 fat.