Green Bean Garlic Sesame Salad (凉拌豆角 Liang Ban Dou Jiao)
August 15, 2020
This is another easy vegetarian dish that I make quite often for my family. It’s extremely versatile. You can pair it with meaty dishes, such as Braised Beef Short Ribs with Carrots or Sweet and Sour Spareribs, use it as toppings for noodle dishes, or simply present it as a standalone vegetarian dish. It also tastes great both warm and cold.
The original recipe calls for yard long beans, also known as asparagus beans or Chinese long beans, which are sold in most Asian grocery stores. But these days in the middle of the pandemic, you try to minimize grocery shopping. It’s therefore not as easy to find these yard long beans. A good substitute for yard long beans would be French green beans or Haricot Verts. Regular green beans can also substitute but require longer cooking times. The result is still very similar and quite tasty. French green beans are more tender and easier to blanch than regular green beans. Thus, they are my preferred choice as a substitute for yard long bean.
The other two ingredients for this recipe are garlic and sesame paste. Garlic needs to be minced first then added to the beans immediately after blanching. The heat from blanching will significantly reduce the pungency and spiciness of the garlic and makes it more fragrant. Chinese sesame paste is another key ingredient. The Chinese sesame paste is made from toasted sesame seeds and has a brown color and thick consistency. It’s available in most Asian grocery stores. But fear not if you can’t find it. There are a few options to replace Chinese sesame paste. A good substitute for Chinese sesame paste would be Tahini. Make sure to use pure Tahini without the lemon juice. I actually have been using Tahini to replace Chinese sesame paste since moving to Texas since my local Asian grocery store ran out of sesame paste.
To make the sesame dressing, you need a little bit of patience. Room temperature filtered water is added bits at a time to the sesame paste. Then the mixture is immediately mixed until the paste fully absorbs the water. This process is repeated several times until the sesame paste achieves a nice consistency, which is much thinner and slightly lighter than the original sesame paste. When making the sesame dressing, you will soon discover that adding water the first few times seems to make the paste thicker, but after a certain point, the mixture slowly becomes thinner and reaches the right consistency. The same thing also happens with Tahini and peanut butter.
Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Low Carb
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 2-4 people
- ~1 lb (or 450 g) of yard long green beans, French green beans, or regular green beans
- 3-4 garlic gloves
- 1 tablespoon Chinese sesame paste, or Tahini1
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- ~¼ cup room temperature water
- Kosher salt
- Vegetable oil
- Boil water in a medium or large sauce pan. The water will be used to blanch the beans. While waiting for water to boil, prepare all the other ingredients.
- Wash the beans thoroughly. Trim the tough ends if using regular green beans. Cut the beans into 1-inch (2.5 cm) long pieces.
- Mince the garlic. Use the back of a chef’s knife or a cleaver to first crush or smash the garlic to loosen the skin. After removing the skin, use two hands to gently rock the chef’s knife back and forth across the pile of garlic to mince it. Alternatively, you can use a garlic press to make garlic mince.
- Make the sesame dressing. In a small bowl, add the 1 tablespoon of Chinese sesame paste (or Tahini) and the 1 teaspoon of table salt. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of room temperature water at a time, immediately mixing the paste and the water until the paste fully absorbs the water. Add another 1 tablespoon of water and mix it again. Repeat the same process a few more times until the paste becomes much thinner and more liquidly. Set aside.
- Once the water from step 1 starts boiling, add the beans, a few drops of vegetable oil, and a pinch of kosher salt. Mix gently. Maintain a medium-high heat and let the beans blanch for 4-5 minutes. After 4-5 minutes, the beans should be tender and crisp. If the bean feels hard and bitter to bite, keep blanching 1 to 2 minutes longer.
- Use a strainer or skimmer to transfer all the beans out to a deep bowl. Add the garlic mince immediately while the beans are still hot, gently combining the beans and garlic until well mixed.
- If consuming right away, add the sesame dressing and mix well with the beans and garlic mince. The dish will be semi-warm. Otherwise, wait to add the sesame dressing until beans are cooled or right before eating. Add more salt to taste.
- Make sure the Tahini does not have lemon juice. Another substitute for Chinese sesame paste would be peanut butter. Since peanut butter is a common allergen, make sure to check for possible allergies before using it as a substitute.