Long string beans stewed in Thai curry tomato sauce
” the devil lies in the impromptu dollop of Thai red curry paste, which I consider a tragically unrealized soulmate to tomato sauces “
This may not look much. It was an accident really, the kind that perhaps only landed so simple and good because of.
Yes I said “good“, to a vegetable. What is happening to me? In a household where most end up rolled out of the fridge only for postmortems and the rest consumed only in repentance instead of joy, this dish received an unexpected broad spectrum of endorsement. Even though it may be deemed as a mundane green beans stewed in tomatoes – and you’re not wrong – the devil lies in the impromptu dollop of Thai red curry paste, which I consider a tragically unrealized soulmate to tomato sauces. Its magic locked within the pulverized lemongrass and galangal was freed by sizzling olive oil, casting this old red sauce in a spell of lemony gingery fragrance and warm heat. Of course such motherly sauce would’ve gladly taken any displaced vegetables under her wings, but I took a particular liking on her behalf to long string beans because of – other than the make-believe resemblance to spaghetti – their willingness to walk down a long simmering road together without throwing a mushy tantrum.
There’s a quiet elegant comfort about the careless ways those curly strings spread out on the plate. With or without the substantialness of poached eggs, it’s a special but not too special anytime-meal that I think you would too, enjoy in repeat.
- 1.5 lbs (680 grams) long string beans, see note*
- 28.2 oz (800 grams) canned whole peeled tomato
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp Thai red curry paste
- 4 cloves of garlic, thinly shaved or minced
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce, plus more to adjust
- 1 tsp light brown sugar
- 4 poached eggs
- Crusty bread
- Wash the long string beans and trim off the stem-tips, set aside. Puree the canned tomato in a blender until smooth, set aside. In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook extra virgin olive oil and Thai curry paste for about 1 min until fragrant. Add the shaved garlics and ground black pepper, and continue to cook for another minute until the the paste is starting to brown a little bit along the sides of the pot. Add the pureed tomato, fish sauce and light brown sugar, and stir until evenly combined.
- Curl up the beans so they fit into the pot. They may be stiff in the beginning but no worries. Partially cover the pot with a lid (tomato sauce love to spit and splatter), leaving an one inch opening to allow the steam to escape and turn the heat down to medium to maintain an active bubbling. After a few minutes, the beans should be soft enough that you could submerge them in the sauce. Continue to cook for about 25 minutes until the beans are soft but not mushy (if you like them even softer, you can cook for another 10 min), and the sauce has reduced down significantly.
- If you want to make this a one-pot thing (instead of poaching the eggs in another pot like I did), you can crack eggs directly into the sauce, put the lid on and cook until the eggs are done with runny yolks. Serve hot with more extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top and crusty breads to mop up all the goodness.
Long string beans can stand up to much longer cooking time than short green beans. So if you only have short green bans, I would reduce the tomato sauce for 10 min first before adding the green beans. You can also substitute long green beans with other stew-friendly vegetables such as collar greens, kale, eggplants and etc.