Tag Archives: Chinese

Asian Flavoured Beans: Not Just For The French


Asian Flavoured Beans

Beans and Buns – Getting Out Of A Glut Rut

Defrosting the freezer is often a boring, and much put-off task (although you should do it fairly regularly, to keep it running efficiently). I was forced into doing mine today. It was getting difficult to open the top drawer, and it had been jamming accusingly every time I went in there. There was definitely a sulky kind of Huh! noise when I tried to shove it back in. So I finally gave in to the nagging.

You may be wondering why I am boring you with all of this domestic drudgery (you never see Nigel Slater having to give that fridge with the camera in the back a good clean do you?).  Well, I found some hom bao lurking in there, and knew I had found lunch. These little buns freeze so well, and they really keep. Well worth making a batch when next the baking bug hits you, and freezing those that you can’t manage on the day.

As I wanted lunch to contain at least one of my five a day, I also wanted a suitable vegetable side dish. A quick ferret around in the fridge revealed a lot of unsuitable veg, and many of my home-grown runner beans, which are still coming thick and fast at the moment. I didn’t really fancy a stir fry of carrots, tomatoes and lettuce, so beans it was.

It’s funny how you can get a bit stuck into one or two ways to cook a particular vegetable. For me, runner beans are always about my ever-popular green bean chutney, or gently steamed and served with butter and black pepper. If I have to combine them with something, I go down the Lebanese route, and stew them in a garlicky tomato sauce (also very highly recommended). Something that I have never previously done with them is combine them with Asian flavours.

There are many Asian dishes that have beans in them, although they more commonly use french or yard-long beans. There is no reason that runners cannot shine just as well, especially if they are garden fresh. I wanted to stick with a vaguely Chinese style for these, since they were to accompany the Hom Bao.

This dish would also be great with a tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds sprinkled over the top at the end. As it was a cleaning-out-the-cupboards kind of meal, and I didn’t have any sesame seeds, I just left them out. You can choose which one you prefer.

I was very happy with these beans, which took on the salt and spice brilliantly. It just goes to show that a lot of new possibilities can open up for you if you go a very small way outside your usual recipes. I’m very happy to have another way to use a seasonal glut of runner beans (although it really is never a problem, I love them).

Do you have a favourite runner bean recipe? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Recipe: Chinese-Style Runner Beans


About 400 g runner beans

1 tbsp sunflower oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste

½ cm fresh ginger, finely grated

2 tbsp soy sauce

½ tsp sesame oil


String the beans (or grow a stringless variety, and save yourself a bit of time). Slice them diagonally into 1 cm thick slices. Add to boiling water on the stove, and cook over a medium heat until the water comes back to the boil again. Do not salt the water,  it will make the beans grey and there will be plenty of salt from the soy in the finished dish.

Once the beans have come back up to the boil, drain them and set aside.

Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan or wok. Add the garlic and the ginger and cook until the fragrance of the ginger hits you. Add the beans and the soy sauce, and cook until the soy has thickened slightly.

Remove from the heat, and stir through the sesame oil and the seeds, if you are using them. Serve immediately.



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Fed at Chinese Noodle Restaurant

Dinner at the Chinese Noodle Restaurant, Sidney

Noodles for you

This is apparently a bit of a Sydney institution. Nestled among other similar asian eateries under a load of escalators up to a shopping centre is the Chinese Noodle Restaurant. Famous for its brusque service, especially during busy periods, the staff will not think twice about asking you to move, mid-meal to shuffle things around a bit to enable them to accommodate a group that has just arrived.

They have a lady at the door who waves you to a seat. You may have to queue a little while, but no-one steps out of line, thanks to her abrupt style. I am told that there was an older lady who would shout at you, and took no nonsense from the students and after hours crowd that this restaurant is popular with, but she seems to have retired, so we didn’t get to meet her. However, we were treated to the gentleman at the door giving us a little violin concerto, which started with happy birthday (as far as I could make out, it was no-one’s birthday in the restaurant), and jingle bells, before moving onto what sounded more traditional eastern music.

Violin playing host at the Noodle restaurant, Sydney

Our violin-playing host

The tiny interior is decorated with interesting tapestries, and the ceiling is adorned in the traditional style… with a plastic grape vine! You can watch them make their noodles by hand through a small window into the kitchen. You get a pot of tea as you are seated, but you can also bring your own if you want alcohol. The place buzzes with the chatter of the patrons and the shouts of the usher at the door. I found it fascinating, then, that orders are placed by the waiting team in a much quieter voice, delivered just outside the kitchen door, but with a cupped hand around their mouth. Given how frantic the kitchen looks through that tiny window, there must be an interesting acoustic quirk of the restaurant for everyone to be able to the right orders, which they do.

The style is Northern Chinese, and you can choose from the hand-made noodles (with or without soup) steamed, boiled or fried dumplings, and some interesting looking pancakes. There were three of us that went, and we chose egg and chive fried dumplings, vegetarian noodles, seafood noodles, and an amazing dish that they describe as braised aubergine. As far as I could tell, it had been braised in soy and garlic, but it was so good. I am sure it is one of those dishes that I will never be able to reproduce at home.You get to make your own strength dipping sauce from fiery dried chilli, black vinegar and soy sauce, I guess that way there is no complaints if it is too hot.

The bill for this was just $4o, and the food was far too much for us to eat in one sitting. Luckily, the team are happy to have the table clear quickly, so there are never any objections if you want to take the rest of your meal home to finish off later, and it returns to you boxed and ready in mere seconds.

Great value, a great atmosphere – people really do enjoy the abruptness, and they are right to – and great food. Locals tell me that you should beware of close-by imitators, and go for the real thing at the Chinese Noodle Restaurant every time.

Chinese Noodle Restaurant
Shop TG7, Prince Centre, 8 Quay Street Haymarket
Tel: 02 9281 9051

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