In My Vegetable Garden: Chinese Red Long Beans

Chinese Red Long Beans (Vigna unguiculata for the horticulturalists) are one of my favorite crops in the vegetable garden this year. Chinese Red Long Beans are a member of the cowpea family versus the common green bean family, which explains why they do so well here in the heat and humidity of a Southern summer. Native to Southeast Asia, they are important to many Asian cuisines. Because of their intense nutritional value, this crop is an important element for food security and sustainability, particularly in rural areas. Chinese Red Long Beans are resistant to both diseases and insects. After growing them this year, I’ll be saving the seed and planting them every year.

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In the garden, the annual vines scamper up our nine-foot trellis—they need plenty of room to grow. Mine are interplanted with Tromboncino squash, my slightly unusual version of a traditional companion pairing in the vegetable garden. The photo above shows a pair of long beans resting on a Tromboncino leaf. The trifoliate leaves of the Chinese Red Long Bean are oval and smooth. The pretty flowers are a pale lavender, and the deep purple pods hang in pairs. The pods grow to about 2 feet in length and should be harvested when no thicker than a pencil to maintain their sweet, asparagus flavor and crispness.

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Chinese Red Long Beans are also a beautiful thing in the kitchen. The beans can be cut into 2-3 inch pieces and are best prepared stir-fried for a few minutes, rather than boiled, so that they keep their beautiful color and crispness. For everyday meals, I simply stir-fry them in olive oil with a diced red pepper and a little onion and then glaze them with a little water, soy sauce, honey and plenty of black pepper. For a complete, quick supper you can stir-fry a little steak or tofu before you cook the beans and then combine them and serve on a bed of whole-grain rice.

When friends come to visit, this recipe from Disney’s D23 restaurant is delicious and fun to serve with Asian-inspired cocktails out in the garden.

Panko-Crusted Chinese Red Long Beans(recipe from Disney’s D23 restaurant )


Sriracha Mayonnaise
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon sriracha (Asian chili sauce)
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon cleaned and thinly sliced green onion, green part only
1/4 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Panko-Crusted Chinese Long Beans
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon seafood spice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups canola oil, for frying
3/4 pound Chinese Red Long Beans, cut into 4-inch-long pieces

4 eggs, beaten
2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Coarse salt, to taste


Sriracha Mayonnaise Combine mayonnaise, Sriracha, vinegar, salt, green onions, lime juice, garlic, and pepper in small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Panko-Crusted Chinese Long Beans Combine flour, seafood spice, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Line a baking sheet with paper towels; set aside. Pour oil in a deep pot to a depth of 1 inch. Heat over medium-high heat to 350°F. Moisten long beans; dredge in flour mixture. Dip in beaten eggs, then roll in panko. Working in batches, gently place in hot oil until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes, using tongs or a slotted spoon to gently turn beans every 45 seconds. Transfer fried beans to prepared baking sheet and season lightly with salt. Serve with Sriracha Mayonnaise.

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