Known as dow gauk in China, sasage in Japan, and either yardlong or asparagus bean in England and the US, this close relative of southern peas (think black-eyed peas, purple hull peas, and crowder peas) grows well in the summer heat. Yardlong beans grow quickly and can grow up to three feet long but are typically harvested when they’re anywhere from 12-18” long. Similar to string/green beans, yardlong beans are harvested before they’re fully mature, preserving their tenderness and enabling us to eat them fresh, without soaking or cooking for a long period of time.
Yardlong beans have a strong bean flavor and can become quite tender and pleasant when they’re cooked well. Unlike string/green beans, yardlong beans soak up a lot of water and can become waterlogged if they’re boiled, blanched, or steamed. The best way to prepare them is to cut them into two-inch pieces and cook them in a hot skillet with oil. They’re great in a stir fry with other summer produce like eggplant and peppers, or prepared more traditionally by dry frying them, Sichuan-style. Their absorbency can be used to your advantage, too, if you choose to cook them in a rich coconut curry with lots of aromatics like ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and chiles.