Filipinos are not exactly known to be crazy about vegetables. The Filipino-American comedian Rex Navarrete joked, “If we could eat the soul of the pig, we would.” (Wait, crispy pata isn’t vegetarian?) So in a way, this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Club vegetable theme seemed like a pretty good challenge.
Sitaw guisado, or stir-fried long beans, is one of my favorite Filipino vegetable dishes. Because proper yard-long beans can be harder to find where I live, I decided to try to make it with a substitute that is more readily available to me: haricots verts. Haricots verts are th small, very thin green beans, essentially a baby version of the normal pencil-width green beans. They’re great because they cook much faster and I find that I don’t need to blanch them; ideal for a three-minute stir fry.
The classic sitaw guisado usually calls for pork, shrimp, tomatoes and onion, as well as sometimes soy or fish sauce. I love this for yard-long beans, but haricots verts have a much more delicate flavor. For these, I scaled back until they were almost naked: just the beans, garlic and a tiny hit of oyster sauce. (Oyster sauce is the truth.) Because it’s so simple, I’ve worked out the steps so they’ll come out just right: the beans need to be quickly fried over high heat, then a bit of water is added to make sure they cook through, then after, the garlic and oyster sauce are added. (I always add the garlic towards the end otherwise you’ll taste nothing but burnt garlic.) If you want to get all fancy, fry some sliced Chinese sausage before frying the beans. If you can’t tear yourself away from the mighty pig, this is a delicious way to incorporate it into this otherwise meatless dish.
Haricots verts guisado
serves 4 as a side dish
150 grams (6 ounces) haricots verts
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Rinse the green beans and drain in a colander.
- Heat the wok over high heat. Add a small glug of vegetable oil and swirl around immediately.
- Add the green beans and a big pinch of sea salt and stir for one minute.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons water. Continue to stir fry until the beans almost entirely absorb the water (there should be a little bit at the bottom of the pan).
- Add the garlic and give it a quick two or three stirs. Add the oyster sauce and give it another quick stir.
- Immediately turn the whole thing out into a serving dish and eat with rice.