The little flat bean

I can’t believe I’d never considered using lentils in my cooking before! I’d just assumed that they, like other dried legumes, take ages to cook and are so bland it’s not even worth it. But having been informed of its nutritional properties, I decided to give the little flat bean, as it is called in Chinese (小扁豆), a shot. I found them canned (10 RMB) at Carrefour, and dry at City Shop (14 RMB for over 3 times the amount), and since I had time this afternoon, I used the dried ones.

It took under half an hour to cook in a pot of water, which is only slightly longer than cooking rice in the rice cooker. A big motivating factor for continued consumption.

Because I didn’t have any fresh veggies around, I fried an egg to go with the lentils, which I seasoned with salt, paprika, black sesame seeds, and this stuff we have from Trader Joe’s (from my trip to the US last Nov.) called 21 Seasoning Salute. All that made the simple dish quite flavourful.

I biked over to the veggie market a few hours later to pick up some veggies. Now that my bike (which used to be half a flight of stairs up) has traded places with Sean’s (which he kept right by the front entrance of our building), getting in and out by bike is super convenient.

The majority of lentil recipes online seem to be for lentil soup or lentil stew, with the ingredients varying little across the board, so I just went with a stir-fry of garlic, red onion, green pepper, boiled carrot, and tomato. I added the lentils to the pan near the end, along with basil, salt, and paprika.

After scooping some onto a plate, I flavoured it further with black sesame seeds and a tiny bit of sesame oil, and I served it—to myself, sadly; Sean is out on a photo gig—with a boiled egg, a piece of whole wheat toast, and “carrot soup” a.k.a. the water used to boil the carrots. It was hearty and tasty and it almost felt like I was indulging.

I noticed though that lentils have a ridiculously high fibre content: 44% for their puny definition of “one serving”. I had least 3 servings today, and that’s not even counting the veggies and whole wheat bread… yikes.



Filed under eating in

5 responses to “The little flat bean

  1. Florence

    Little flat beans area amasing. Glad you likey! They go amazingly well in curries, too. The simplest way I make it is to fry up some onions and garlic and various spices (including curry powder), then just add boiled lentils and some water. Serve on rice with a dollop of plain yogurt and some fresh mint and lime juice (if you have/want). Also look up lentil “meatloaf” recipes—I find lentil loaves a bit too much as a whole loaf (i.e., I get sick of them very fast), but just make a half-recipe and fry in patties instead of baking as a loaf.

    When I’m really broke/lazy I just cook rice and pre-soaked lentils together in the rice cooker (with spices, minced garlic, and a bay leaf or two).

    Lentils are amazing amazing amazing. I have a huge bag of dried green and another one of dried red lentils in my cupboard at all times.

  2. Ooh yess I’m planning to try a lentil curry soon! Don’t have an oven but lentil patties sound good. Care to share a recipe, or will any lentil meatloaf recipe work?

    What’s the difference btwn red and green? I’ve only seen the latter here.

    • Florence

      Red lentils are green lentils sans husk. Less fibre, quicker to cook (and disintegrate), good if you want it to be a thickener/paste (like in a curry). They end up looking the same colour…

      I’ve tried one lentil loaf recipe but I ended up getting really sick of it, probably because I had to eat the WHOLE loaf. But I’m sure it’s delish when in smaller quantities. Also try looking for lentil burger/patties recipes.

  3. Fiona

    Do you have any tips on taking food close-ups without it getting blurry?

    • hmm macro (obviously), also try to take pictures in natural lighting (in daytime). I use a little tripod when the light is bad, but if you don’t have one, try resting it on/against something? Sorry can’t be more helpful >< Your food pics are quite nice though! Oh it helps a lot to have a camera with more controls:)

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