The best tasting yard-long beans are usually about 18-inches (45 cm) long, which means the best tasting yard-long beans are young. Even so “tender” and “sweet” are not adjectives that are commonly used to describe even young yard-long beans. Rather the yard-long bean—which also goes by the name asparagus bean and Chinese long bean—is a bean that is dense and solid at half its size, not crisp and juicy. The yard-long bean, simply put, is not a substitute for the green bean.
Fall is the peak season for yard-long beans which is perfect because these are beans well suited for deep-frying, stir-frying and braising. On a brisk autumn day, yard-long beans are good eating with vegetable or meat stews, with fried rice, black beans, sausage, roast pork, curry or chili sauce. The taste of yard-long beans intensifies with cooking; they become nutty, chewy and firm.
Where exactly the yard-long bean got its start is unclear. It might have been Africa; it might have been Asia. That the yard-long bean is sometimes called a Chinese long bean tells us that it has been a staple in that country for thousands of years, probably to pre-historic times. Today, you will find yard-long beans at Asian produce markets and probably at your farm market as well.
Select. When choosing yard-long beans, pick those that are thin and relatively long to 18 inches. The peas inside should not be developed, so avoid beans that are bulging. Yard-long beans will not be crisp like a green bean, but they should not be limp either.
There are both pale green and dark green yard-long beans. The paler bean will be sweeter tasting and more tender than the dark green variety. The dark green bean is stronger flavored and more firm. So you can choose the bean best suited to your taste and to the meal you plan to serve
Prepare. Before cooking, cut off both ends of the bean then cut it into lengths of 2 to 6 inches (5-15 cm).
Store. Yard-long beans will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. They should be wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a plastic bag. Beans that have grown too old will turn limp and rusty colored.