The 2013 high holidays continue to bear down on us and I find myself devoting little effort on this blog lately (Xmas prep is definitely intruding on my free time, but a general dearth of material is also slightly to blame). If you are a devoted reader (both of you, that is), thanks for your patience as I now try to catch up a bit with a recipe that first came to my attention at Mrs. Hackknife's going-away dinner this past February at Girl and the Goat. Among the many tremendous meat and fish dishes we were served that evening was a mind-bending version of sauteed green beans in a fish sauce vinaigrette with cashews. The restaurant's proprietor, Chef Steph, refers to them as her "magic green beans" and they certainly did a hocus-pocus on my tastebuds with a depth of flavor not normally encountered in the humble legume. As I'm always looking for new ways to prep the usual drab vegetables here in the Canteen, I took it upon myself one day to track down the chef's magic bean recipe, not finding it in her cookbook (apparently, it was closely guarded for a while), but instead on this blog post from her website after an appearance on the Rosie O'Donnell Show.
The instructions themselves are a little short on details (I suspect the recipe is geared for people with more experience in the kitchen than I), but I managed to muddle through and assemble a reasonable, if not inferior, facsimile of the original dish we had that cold night. The bulk of the flavor boost comes from the vinaigrette (a zesty blend of funky fish sauce, lemon juice, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic, and sambal oelek - I used in this in place of sriracha), which is poured over the beans and some shallots in a hot fry pan to steam everything. The recipe doesn't state how long the beans are supposed to cook, so I pressed on until I thought they were tender (I still think I undercooked them a little), added the cashews, and sat down with the progeny for dinner. Since I knew my kids wouldn't go for the vinaigrette (even I thought the fish sauce was a little, um, robust), I didn't even bother with the aioli listed in the instructions and instead spooned some extra sauce over mine to get the full effect. They were good, but I was a little underwhelmed until Mrs. Hackknife got home and tried hers:
Mrs. Hackknife: "!" "What did you do to these beans?"
Me: "Um, it's a Stephanie Izard recipe I tried to duplicate. You don't like it?"
Mrs. Hackkinfe: "No, I think they're awesome!"
Ok, so that was all the validation I needed. It turns out the fish sauce vinaigrette is also pretty darn good on white rice, which I discovered later that week as I tried to finish it up. In any case, I now have another version of green beans to add to the repertoire (along with the Mexican green bean salad, green bean casserole, and the just plain boiled ones)...