Long beans can be eaten raw or cooked. Sliced long beans can be added raw to salads similar to French haricots verts. Long beans can be steamed or sautéed as a side dish. They can be added to soups and stews.
Long beans have a chewy, crunchy texture–more so than snap beans–and a flavor reminiscent of the dry navy bean or asparagus.
Long beans are also called asparagus bean, yard long bean, Chinese pea, snake bean, dau gok, and bodi or boonchi.
Long beans are warm-season plants harvested from mid to late summer. Long beans will be damaged by frost.
How to Select Long Beans
- Long beans are most flavorful thin and about 18 inches long. (Long beans referred to as yard-long beans will never reach a yard long.)
- Seeds inside a long bean should not be fully developed; avoid beans that are bulging.
- Long beans are dense and meaty; they are not crisp or juicy like green beans, and they are not a substitute for green beans).
- Avoid mature long beans that are yellow or whitish colored.
- Avoid long beans that are limp.
- There are both pale green and dark green long beans. A paler bean will be sweeter tasting and meatier than dark green long beans. Pale green long beans will be more tender than the dark green long beans. Dark green long beans will be stronger flavored and more firm than pale green long beans.
- Mature long beans can be harvested for their seeds which can be dried and stored like other dry beans.
- Beans that have grown too old will turn limp and rusty colored.
- Long beans do not contain as much moisture as bush or pole beans (the long bean is not a close relative of the common bean), that’s what makes them more flexible and snake-like and drier to taste.
How to Store Long Beans
- Long beans will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days in a closed plastic bag.
- Wrap long beans in a paper towel and placed them in a plastic bag.
How to Prep Long Beans
- Trim away both ends then slice the bean into desired lengths on the diagonal or straight across.
- Slice long beans into 1 to 2-inch bite-sized pieces for stir-frying.
- Long beans are best trimmed before cooking.
Long Bean Cooking Suggestions
- Long beans can be stir-fried, stewed, braised, sautéed, shallow-fried, and deep-fried.
- Long bean flavor intensifies with cooking. Stir-fry long beans until just tender crunchy.
- Steam long beans until just tender about 3 to 7 minutes.
- Braise long beans for 20 minutes with other vegetables and meats, best in a garlicky or oniony braising liquid. Dark green long beans are best suited for braising.
- The taste of yard-long beans intensifies with cooking; they become nutty, chewy and firm.
Long Bean Serving Suggestions
- Long beans can be served raw in salads.
- Serve long beans with vegetable or meat stews, fried rice, black beans, sausage, roast pork, curry or chili sauce.
- Add long beans to soups or stir-fried dishes.
- Long beans are often used in Szechwan-style Chinese cooking. The Szechwan dish called dry-fried beans is the long bean deep-fried, drained, and then stir-fried with a spicy seasoning. That dish takes about 5 minutes to cook.
Long Bean Flavor Partners
- Long beans have a flavor affinity for pork, ginger, nuts, fermented black beans, garlic, strong herbs, soy and fish sauce, chili peppers, sausages, oil, and vinegar.
Long Bean Nutrition
- Long beans are rich in vitamin A and also contain vitamin C and potassium.
- Long beans are low in calories, about 45 calories per cup.
Get to Know Long Beans
- Long beans are climbing plants that reach 6 to 13 feet long.
- The pods can be straight or hooked. Each pod contains 15 to 20 elongated kidney-shaped seeds usually black or brown between and each about ½ to ¾ inches long.
- Long beans are ready for harvest at 8 to 10 inches long but can be picked much longer, at 1½ to 3 feet long.
- Long beans originated in tropical and sub-tropical Africa before traveling east to India, Indonesia, and China and then on to the Pacific Islands. From Africa, the long bean traveled west to the Caribbean and North America.
- Long beans are commonly grown in California and Hawaii.
- Long beans are also called Chinese long beans and asparagus beans.
The botanical name for the yard-long bean is Vigna unguiculata, subsp. sesquipedalis. (Sesquipedalis means foot and a half long in Latin.)
Also of interest:
How to Harvest and Store Beans