Introducing a traditional Chinese long bean recipe. Although not well known in the western world, fermented long beans are quite famous in China.
My mother and I used to go to a restaurant called “nine phoenix” in Beijing. The Chinese name literally translates to “9-headed birds” which is a mythical creature worshiped by the people in Hubei province. So it is not hard to guess that the restaurant specialized in Hubei cuisine. I had the best infamous minced pork stir-fried sour long beans there. Fermented long beans is the key ingredient in the dish. The video below shows you how to ferment Chinese long beans the authentic way.
What Does Fermented Long Beans Taste Like?
If you have never had fermented long beans before, it is an acquired taste. If you grew up eating it, it’s madly addictive. After fermentation, the beans are sour and savoury. They took on the flavours of spices and seasonings in the brine. The beans also turn softer and therefore cook faster.
Fermented Long Bean Ingredients
Here are the ingredients you need to make this Chinese long bean recipe:
- Chinese long beans
- Ginger root
- Whole star anise
- Red Sichuan peppercorns
- Cinnamon stick
- Bay leaves
- Sea salt
- Rock sugar: Substitute with granulated cane sugar if not available
- Filtered water
- Baijiu: Baijiu is a class of high alcohol content Chinese fermented grain spirits. I used the “red star” brand Erguotou, a low-end Baijiu and the most economical and suitable for cooking. You can use any kind of Baijiu.
Stack washed long beans in spirals or cut them into shorter segments to fit in your fermentation vessel. Then add all the spices, seasonings and water to submerge the vegetables. Place a weight on the vegetables if needed. And finally, seal the jar with a lid. Please see my Sichuan fermented vegetables recipe for details on traditional fermentation method vs. modern fermentation method, and what you can use to weigh down the vegetables.
Leave the jar of Chinese long beans in room temperature, but away from direct sunlight. Let the vegetables ferment for about 10 days in a dark cool spot. The length of time may vary by a few days depending on the exact temperature of your house and how sour you like your long beans. The longer the long beans ferment, the more sour and intense the flavours will become and the softer the long beans will be.
Storing Fermented Long Beans
If you are not eating the Chinese long beans right away, you will need to move them into cold storage to stop them from fermenting further. The vegetables will turn soft if fermented too long. You can transfer the entire fermentation jar into the fridge, until you finish the vegetables, or you can remove the fermented vegetables from the brine and store them in a separate sealed container in the fridge for months.
What to Do With Leftover Brine
You can reuse the brine to ferment more batches of long beans, or you can keep the leftover brine in a separate jar in the fridge for use in soup stock. The leftover brine is a great seasoning and soup base for any soup that needs a tangy kick.
Using Fermented Long Beans
The most classic fermented long beans dish is the minced pork stir-fried sour long beans. You can also add the fermented long beans in noodle soups and fried rice.
Related: More Fermentation Recipes You Will Love
- Sichuan Fermented Vegetables (四川泡菜)
- Paleo Apple-Fermented Kimchi
- Keto Kimchi (Whole 30, GAPS, Paleo)
- Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut /w Caraway Seeds
- Pineapple-Turmeric-Ginger Probiotic Sauerkraut
- Wild Fermented Salsa (No Whey, Probiotic, Vegan)
- Fermented Watermelon Rind Salsa
- Fermented Pickles /w Green Tea and Dill Flowers
- Honey Fermented Garlic: A Natural Remedy for Cold and Flu
- Fermented Cherry Tomatoes
- Fermented Hot Peppers
Fermented Long Beans (酸豇豆)
- Wash the long beans and then cut off the tough ends.
- Place the long beans in a large glass jar. You can either stack the long beans in spirals (as shown in video) or cut them into segments to fit into the jar.
- Add sliced ginger, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, salt, sugar, water and erguotou into the jar, to submerge the vegetables. Place a weight on the vegetables if needed. Seal the jar with a lid.
- Let the Chinese long beans ferment in a dark cool spot for about 10 days in room temperature. Once the fermentation starts, the vegetables will produce carbon dioxide. Check daily to release air pressure from the jar. The longer the long beans ferment, the more sour and intense the flavour will become and the softer the long beans will be.
- Transfer the fermented long beans into cold storage to stop fermentation. The fermented long beans will last in the fridge for months.
- I use a 3-quart size glass container for 1 batch of the long beans.
- If you like spicy fermented long beans, you can add fresh red chili peppers at the start of the fermentation.