A Stir-fry and A Salad
Stir-fried long beans is one of my favourite quick and easy vegetable stir-fries. When I went marketing last weekend, to my surprise, I found only one bunch of long beans left in the entire tray - either long beans are really popular or there is a dire shortage of these beans? Since a single bunch wasn't going to be enough for my stir-fry, I supplemented with sugar snap peas.
This particular stir-fry is all about crunch and more crunch - long beans and snap peas cooked just about right retaining some bite, and extra crunch coming from crushed roasted peanuts added to the stir-fry.
- to ensure that I do not overcook the long beans and sugar snap peas, I cook them first in a pot of boiling salted water for a few minutes until just about tender - and then drain them in a colander and run cold tap water through them to stop the cooking process
- heat a wok over high heat, and when the wok is ready, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl around the wok to coat it
- add minced garlic (from 2 to 3 cloves) and stir-fry for about a few seconds until pale golden in color, immediately add thinly sliced shallots (from about 3 to 4 shallots) and crushed roasted peanuts (not powdery or too finely ground but crushed - the best tool for the job: a stone pestle and mortar) - stir-fry for a few more seconds
- add the long beans and sugar snap peas together with some thinly sliced red bird's eye chilli (chilli padi) - stir-fry for a minute or so to heat through, and add some soy sauce and salt for seasoning
- remove from heat and transfer to plate - drizzle with a bit of lime juice (from half a lime) and it's ready!
And on days when heaving a wok on the stove seems too gargantuan a task for the evening, then a simple bowl of salad will suffice. There are many versions out there of the famous Caesar Salad, believed to have been created by Caesar Cardini, the Italian owner of a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico in the 1920s (click on the link provided for some interesting nuggets of information, including a shot of the Hotel Cesar, where it was supposedly created). This particular version which I found in Gourmet magazine, doesn't use bottled mayonnaise or cream salad but creates the emulsion dressing straight from scratch using a raw egg, olive oil, lemon juice and mashed anchovy fillets.
- clean and drain the romaine leaves (from two romaine hearts - i.e. two bunches)
- as I like a little bit of protein with my salad for substance, I will usually hard-boil an egg or two
- croutons (which are an absolute carbohydrate requirement for a Caesar salad) are usually small cubes of baguette fried until golden in olive oil which has been infused with garlic (by stir-frying some slices of garlic earlier on)
- to make the dressing: mash up 2 to 3 anchovy fillets (which can be found in most supermarkets under the canned sardines and tuna sections - using 2 to 3 fillets is not too overwhelming in flavor, but if you prefer a stronger flavor, by all means, use up to 4 fillets or so) in a bowl, whisk in 1 egg (please make sure this is a fresh egg) and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, then add a quarter cup of the garlic-infused olive oil (not hot but cooled to either warm or room temperature) in a slow stream while continuing to whisk to create an emulsion. Season with salt.
- toss the dressing with the romaine leaves, add the croutons and toss again
- add the wedges of hard-boiled egg and thinly shaved or grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, season with some ground black pepper
Two healthy dishes - simple to prepare, appetizing on sight and tasty as well!