Green Beans with Creamy Sesame Sauce

Green Beans with Sesame SauceThis one falls in the category of simple and tasty.  Green beans are blanched, then cooled and dressed with a lovely sauce of sweetened tahini.   The slight bitter quality of the tahini combines with the saltiness of the soy to make a really delightful combination.  In the photo above, the dish is garnished with fried tofu cubes, which I really like.  If you are pressed for time, simply substitute some type of almond.  My personal favorites are the Marcona almonds that Brinn gets from Trader Joe’s, but simple slivered ones will work just fine.

Dishes like this are a very good reason to keep a small garden.  That way yo can be a little bit discriminating about what types of beans you cook.  Although there is a wide variety of beans to select from in the grocery stores around here, I know that this is not the case in many parts of the country.  We prefer french filet-type beans for blanching and eating fresh, but you may prefer something more strongly flavored.  In a pinch, blue lake green beans will do, but they get a little tough if they get too large.  I am really looking forward to about a month from now when beans from the garden are available.  If you have even a small area that you can till up or even a large pot, I encourage you to grow some beans.  It is easy and you will get the type you like to eat.  Baker Creek Seeds is a great vendor…still not too late to give either bush or pole beans a go.

Oh.  Fried tofu.  This is a really good thing to know how to make and have around.  It is basically tofu in crouton format.  To make it, use a firm or extra firm tofu.  If I have not made fresh tofu lately, I prefer the extra firm sprouted tofu from Safeway Organics.  It is very durable, keeps for a long time unopened in the refrigerator, and has a very clean flavor.  If I have to buy tofu, this is the one that I purchase.  for those of you on a calorie restriction, be aware that this particular tofu has a pretty high amount of calories…and will have even more once fried.

There is a slight trick to frying tofu.  Whether you are using a wok with oil or a deep fryer, it is important to put the tofu out of the oil after 2 to 3 minutes of frying so that it can rest.  Doing this will allow the tofu to brown and crisp up readily.  I have no idea why, but a slight rest (just let it cool slightly) makes it much easier to make crisp, beautifully colored tofu cubes.  If any of you food chemistry types out there have an opinion with respect to why this method works so well, I would love to hear it.

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Green Beans with Creamy Sesame Sauce
 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: 2 to 3
Ingredients
  • 2 to 3 oz. firm tofu
  • 7 to 10 oz. green beans
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 Tbs. sugar, preferably raw
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 3 Tbs. sake
Instructions
  1. Cut tofu into ½ inch cubes. Heat oil in either deep fryer or wok to about 350 degree F. Fry tofu cubes until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to drain and cool.
  2. Heat water to boiling in a stock pot. Add beans and cook about 3 to 4 minutes or until tender, yet firm. Drain beans in colander and cool under running water. Set aside to drain.
  3. To make sauce, whisk tahini, soy, sugar and sake together. Set aside about 5 to 10 minutes, as sauce will thicken slightly.
  4. Plate beans in individual portions, drizzle with sauce and top with fried tofu cubes. Almonds substitute well for the fried tofu.

 

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