In Burma the cook starts not with dried beans but with fresh butter beans or limas. Those are hard to come by in North America, so I usually substitute frozen limas or edamame (soybeans), both available in well-stocked supermarkets and Asian groceries.

Here, the bright green, beautiful beans are cooked in hot oil flavored with a little garlic and slices of galangal. If you cannot find galangal, substitute ginger; the flavor will be different but still pleasing, and with a warm tingle to it. Serve the beans hot or at room temperature.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) fresh or frozen lima beans or shelled soybeans (edamame)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 3 slices or 1 generous tablespoon coarsely chopped galangal
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method

Place the fresh or frozen beans in a large sieve and rinse briefly with cold water to wash off any ice or dirt. Set aside.

Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Lower the heat to medium, toss in the garlic and galangal, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Raise the heat to high, add the beans, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly to expose them all to the hot oil. Add the hot water and salt and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the beans are just tender to the bite, another 5 minutes or so (timing will depend on the beans). Turn out and serve.

Garden Peas with Galangal

Freshly shelled garden peas are delicious cooked this way, their slight sweetness balanced by the resinous flavor of the galangal. Use a little less water to cook them. And the cooking time is shorter, just a minute or two, especially if the peas are young and tender.

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