Monday, July 28, 2008
Humble Food: Lima Beans, Pure and Simple
When time allows, I love intricate cooking. New techniques, new ingredients, multiple layers of preparation - I am fascinated and enchanted by the simultaneously scientific and artistic process of transforming ingredients into something novel and unexpected. Last night, though, I was reminded of a form of magic far easier to overlook - the astounding beauty of pure culinary minimalism.
I've been cooking lima beans quite frequently while Zach's been out of town, largely because they were on sale the week after he left, and, in my enthusiasm, I purchased a generous quantity, forgetting that Zach doesn't like lima beans and that hence their consumption would fall entirely to me. (Hmmm, sounds rather like the 5 pound bag of pinto beans, doesn't it... Maybe I should learn a lesson from these experiences... :-) In this case by "large quantity" I do mean just one pound, rather than five, and the lima beans have actually been a lovely staple during these weeks of cooking and eating solo. Well balanced with fiber and protein, lima beans seem inherently comforting to me - crisp and fresh yet smooth and creamy all at the same time.
While I fixed the limas completely without embellishment on one of my first nights alone, last night I appreciated anew the intensely flavorful, subtle, yet complexly layered tastes that can be achieved with just a bit of toasted sesame oil and some raw nama shoyu soy sauce.
Yes, they are rather brown. They are minimalistic. They're not garnished elaborately, nor did they take more than 5 minutes to prepare. But after a 12 hour shift, or doing something that feels like a 12 hour shift, pure and simple cooking can be one of the best parts of coming home...
Stir-Fried Lima Beans
1 T toasted sesame oil
1/2 lb. frozen lima beans, thawed and lightly steamed - I cook them in the microwave until they are just half-way cooked
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup sliced celery
2 tsp minced garlic
12 oz firm tofu, drained and pressed, and then sliced into strips
approx. 1/3 cup nama shoyu soy sauce (or any kind of soy sauce you prefer and have on hand)
2 cups brown rice, cooked
~ In a large skillet or wok over high heat, saute the lima beans, onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic until just crisp tender, making sure the lima beans are cooked through but not soggy.
~ Add the tofu, and continue to saute until the tofu is heated through and beginning to brown on the edges, and the lima beans have really browned and caramelized.
~ Add the soy sauce to taste, and continue sauteing just until heated through again.
~ Serve atop the brown rice - supper's ready!