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Spicy Asparagus Bean Salad

This hearty salad is ideal for potlucks and outdoor summer buffets. The flavors intensify when all the chopped ingredients are mixed and dressed ahead of serving. Chinese asparagus beans, also known as yard-long beans, replace winged beans, which are used in the classic Thai preparation.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 6 oz. ground dark-meat chicken
  • 3 Tbs. grated unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 lb. asparagus beans or slender green beans
      such as Blue Lake, trimmed
  • 1/4 lb. cooked shrimp, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 red serrano chili, seeded and chopped
  • 1 green serrano chili, seeded and chopped

For the garlic and shallot chips:

  • 2 cups peanut or corn oil for frying
  • 6 shallots, about 6 oz., cut into thin slivers
  • 8 garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers

For the coconut cream:

  • 1/2 can (7 fl. oz.) unsweetened coconut milk,
      well shaken
  • 1/2 cup palm sugar or brown sugar

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 Tbs. Thai roasted chili paste
  • 1 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 3 Tbs. roasted peanuts, chopped, for garnish

Directions:

In a small fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 1 Tbs. oil. Add the chicken and sauté, breaking up any clumps, until opaque and crumbly, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a small dry fry pan over medium heat, toast the coconut, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Add the beans and blanch until tender-crisp, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking. Cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Add the coconut, beans, shrimp, bell pepper, and red and green chilies to the chicken and stir to combine.

To make the garlic and shallot chips, in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, warm the 2 cups peanut oil until the temperature reaches 325°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Add the shallots and fry until golden brown and crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Add the garlic to the heated oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

To make the coconut cream, in a small saucepan over high heat, combine the coconut milk and the palm sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced to a thick cream, about 5 minutes.

To make the dressing, in a bowl, combine the lime juice, chili paste, fish sauce and sugar. Whisk in 3 Tbs. of the coconut cream.

Pour the dressing over the salad, add the garlic and shallot chips and toss gently to combine. Transfer to a platter. Drizzle with the remaining coconut cream and garnish with the peanuts. Serve immediately.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Asian Flavors, by Joyce Jue (Time-Life Books, 1999).