I have a confession to make: I am not a fan of frozen string beans. Oh, how slimy they are and how I hate their texture. I would take a can of string beans any day over frozen ones, with fresh, of course, being the best.
However, this year in Farmer Kev’s winter CSA I got packets of frozen string beans. Lots of packets. (I completely understand why Farmer Kev would prefer to freeze the beans rather than can them. I would make the same decision if I were in his situation.) I’ve been using the string beans, diced small, in various soups, and this hides their slimy nature. In fact, the frozen beans are very good in soup.
Then not long ago, when my friend Alice was visiting, she told me what she had done with part of a packet of frozen string beans I had given her. “I stir fried them with garlic and oil until the beans were blistered and well cooked. They were delicious.”
Alice is a good cook, and I trust her judgement. Despite my aversion to frozen beans, I resolved to try her method. Not long after her visit, I whipped out my trusty cast-iron frying pan, added some oil, heated it, then added some thawed beans. I let them sizzle for quite a while, say, five minutes or so, until they were nicely blistered and more than a little brown. I added the garlic during the last minute—I didn’t want the garlic to be as brown as the string beans.
And the results? Readers, the beans were utterly delicious. The slimy texture was gone, gone, gone to be replaced by a crisp, garlicky one. The beans were so good that I gobbled them up before I ate my potato and chicken, and I wished I had more when the beans were gone.
I see other possibilities for these stir-fried string beans. They are terrific with just the garlic, but soy sauce and sesame oil could also be added. The beans are great as a side, but cut a little smaller, and they would also be delicious in stir-fried rice, one of Clif’s favorite dishes and a staple in our house.
How nice for this old cook to learn a new trick, to take a vegetable I was not excited about and to turn it into something that I eagerly eat.
Many thanks, Alice!