Monday, March 21, 2016

"Yy" Has It Taken Me So Long?

Beans with Blossoms
It’s long, slender and exhibits a brilliant shade of green.  I’m not referring to asparagus, though I  could be since it is currently in season, but asparagus doesn’t begin with letter Yy.  Hmmmm, you wonder, what exactly is in season that begins with letter Yy? Think, think, think.  I know they’re in your local markets now as they are pretty year round, Yams, with their Yy status are not truly in season until September.  Yogurt and Yeast begin with letter Yy, but can hardly be considered produce, no matter how much I try to stretch the concept.  And while Yakitori and Yachtworst are absolutely delicious, they constitute prepared dishes.  Think, think think . . . . Karen! you genius! ~ you’re right, it’s the Yard Long Bean, also known as the Chinese Long Bean or Snake Bean!!  These leggy legumes are commonly found in local Asian markets, and lucky for us are showing up in many Farmers Markets these days. 

A close relative to black-eyed peas, the Yarn Long is actually quite lovely as it extends down the vine to which it’s attached, growing up to 3 feet in length.  I was surprised to discover there are several more varieties than I've ever known: Red Seed, Black Seed, White Seed, the Stickless Wonder and the show-stopper of a looker the Purple Pod Yard Long. But the Southern Winner is purported to be among the most tasty of all.  A deeper shade of green than the other varieties, Southern Winner is a prolific producer resulting in crispy, sweet beans.  Many people may pick up a bunch of Yard Longs only to put them back down, thinking their soft, suppleness indicates age.  But Yard Longs tend to be less snappy than the traditional green bean.

Easy to grow, they produce flowers and pods in about 45 days.  Once they get going, should you decide to include them in your garden, you may find yourself going out almost daily to harvest.  As I mentioned earlier, they live up to their name Yard Long and each variety does indeed grow up to a yard in length, some even longer.  Displaying heart shaped leaves and small flowers, in white (as shown) pink or lavender in colouring, many people ascertain the flavor of a Yard Long is similar to that of asparagus.  Another common name for this bean I failed to mention is Asparagus Bean.  
A canopy of Yard Longs

Once harvested or purchased, Yard Longs will keep in your fridge for up to 5 days.  As for culinary uses, cook with them as you would any green bean.  Great in stir-fries, trimmed and cut on the bias they’re a beautiful addition to salads or as we use them frequently at Sur La Table Cooking School, in our Thai dishes.   

I prefer allowing them to maintain their elegant style by presenting Yard Longs whole, steamed and displayed on a platter, drizzled lightly with hazelnut infused oil, a generous sprinkling of fresh lemon zest and some crumbled goat cheese dancing across the arrangement!  Yum Yum for Yard Longs!

Oh! ~ I didn't answer the question as to "Yy" it has taken me so long to get back to my Blog.  That would be due to my finally completing my book, One 4-Ounce Serving, A Collection Of Food Stories And Recipes.  There will be an official book launch, hosted, hopefully, by Sur La Table at Downtown Summerlin in the next few weeks.  So watch this Blog or check out my FB page for the upcoming details.  Finally!!  Yahoo!  Yippee! (Yy words of excitement).
Yard Longs cut down to size - easier for eating I guess